The federal government has had a total monopoly over legal immigration for years, and the consequence has been substantial illegal immigration and massive wait times for high‐skilled foreign workers. America should try something new.
The United States has a relatively restrictive immigration system for economic immigrants—far below the per‐capita rate of immigration in many other developed countries. This bill would allow America to compete for foreign workers in the same way other countries already do. As my new Cato Institute analysis of the bill notes, the legislation’s 500,000 visas would increase the annual flow of foreign workers to the United States by about 80 percent.
In this context, it makes sense to increase legal immigration, but why should the increase come from state‐sponsorship? One reason is that markets need to adjust quickly to changes in order to fulfill the needs of consumers. Yet the federal immigration monopoly has simply demonstrated itself to be so inflexible to changing conditions that, despite widespread agreement that it needs changes, none are made.
Congress has left the system unreformed since 1990. In that time, total employment doubled; agricultural employment fell in half; manufacturing ended its reign as the leading employer in most states; the service sector took its place; and unauthorized immigrants moved from seasonal industries to year‐round employment. Despite all of these shifts, Congress has done nothing.