A February 26 article in Yahoo News warns that America's ESL system might not be ready for millions of unauthorized immigrants who would be required to learn English in order to qualify for green cards under current CIR proposals, This is indeed a serious problem.*
What about all the ESL teachers who would need to be hired for solid, good paying jobs to meet the anticipated demand? Should we be putting so many Americans back to work so quickly?
Who would build houses and automobiles for these newly hired teachers to buy? What would thousands, or millions of American businesses do with all the extra revenue that they would generate from having more well paid, fully employed ESL school teachers as customers?
What would federal, state and local governments do with the additional tax revenue that hiring more teachers would generate, not to mention the increased taxes that immigrants who are able to work legally and speak English would be able to pay, and jobs they would create by spending more money? This could really be serious - cutting our deficit by growing the economy.
But the problems that immigration reform could create might not end there. If America decides to welcome more skilled workers and entrepreneurs, as politicians in both parties are threatening to do, there is a real danger that more innovative, cutting edge companies could be established in places like Silicon Valley and elsewhere to provide jobs for millions of Americans and make our companies more competitive in the global marketplace. Does America really want lower unemployment? Could we deal with that?
Then think of all the foreign scientists who might come here to help find treatments or cures for disease and help millions of Americans live longer, productive lives, if our legal immigration system were reformed.
Recently, I represented one such medical researcher in an extraordinary ability case. The client had been offered a key position by a top US medical institution. However, an alert USCIS examiner, perhaps acting out of concern that finding treatments for too many diseases too quickly might improve America's quality of life too fast, issued a bitterly hostile RFE which almost derailed the case, before it was finally approved.
It is fine to talk about immigration reform, but we should not rush into this blindly. We have to make sure that America is ready to handle all the benefits first. Reform has consequences.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.