Lessons from the Trade Arena: A Proposal to Change U.S. Immigration Law for the Benefit of U.S. Workers
San Diego International Law Journal, Vol. 1, pp. 49-73, 2000
Posted: 24 Aug 2000
The establishment of the World Trade Organization and the growing movement toward a global free trade system present new opportunities for the United States and its citizens. Yet despite being one of the driving forces behind this push toward free trade and the removal of all barriers with respect to the trading of goods, the United States continues to take much more of a protectionist stances with regard to its labor market. This approach creates a system where goods move freely across borders but workers cannot.
This article examines this conflict between U.S. trade and immigration law and policy and asks whether the United States could apply some of the principles underlying its free trade policy to its immigration law in a way that benefits the U.S. economy and its workers. Specifically, the author looks at the controversy surrounding the H-1B visa program for non-immigrants and the U.S. treatment of foreign skilled workers. The authors reviews some of the lessons of free trade principles, including the benefits of increased competition and innovation, and examines whether foreign skilled workers can provide similar benefits to the U.S. economy and to U.S. workers. Finally, the author proposes a more open approach to foreign workers, one in which U.S. workers can achieve significant gains.
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