Three wealthy Americans from very different points on the political spectrum came together this week to write an editorial in the New York Times regarding the importance of immigration reform. In an op-ed dated July 10th, Sheldon Adelson, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates criticize the partisan gridlock in on Capitol Hill and write that they all agree that immigration reform is an important legislative priority that needs to be addressed immediately.
“The three of us vary in our politics and would differ also in our preferences about the details of an immigration reform bill. But we could without doubt come together to draft a bill acceptable to each of us. We hope that fact holds a lesson: You don’t have to agree on everything in order to cooperate on matters about which you are reasonably close to agreement.”
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Immigration reform: Americans deserve better
The three billionaires write “Most Americans believe that our country has a clear and present interest in enacting immigration legislation that is both humane to immigrants living here and a contribution to the well-being of our citizens.” They go on to argue that it is possible to reach these goals, but present policy “fails badly” on both counts.
They also roundly castigate the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for sitting on its hands in the face of a major problem that is just getting worse. They say our current policy is irrational, and doing nothing to reform it is equally irrational.
Adelson, Buffett and Gates say American deserve better. “The current stalemate — in which greater pride is attached to thwarting the opposition than to advancing the nation’s interests — is depressing to most Americans and virtually all of its business managers. The impasse certainly depresses the three of us.”
“Talented graduate” reform
The trio also specifically commented they “believe it borders on insanity to train intelligent and motivated people in our universities — often subsidizing their education — and then to deport them when they graduate.” They acknowledge many of these people want to go home after their education. But they say “let’s roll out the welcome mat” for those who wish to stay and work in computer science or technology fields instead of forcing them to go back to their native countries.
Adelson, Buffett and Gates note that “talented graduate” reform was a part of the immigration reform legislation the Senate approved last year by 68-to-32. That reform would have removed the global cap on the number of visas that could be awarded to legal immigrants who had a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from an accredited institution of higher education in the U.S., assuming they had a job offer. The Senate bill also included a provision to permit current illegal residents to obtain citizenship, after putting in the time and effort to earn the right to do so.