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Brain Gain : Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy - Darrell M. West

Brain Gain

Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy

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Many of America's greatest artists, chefs, investors, entrepreneurs, and leaders have come from abroad. Advances in atomic energy, information technology, international commerce, sports, arts, and culture are directly attributable to talented immigrants. Indeed, America experiences a "brain gain" from in-migration, and therefore needs to maintain its openness to new arrivals to stay competitive and gain access to the special talents of other lands. Yet many Americans still don't see it that way, despite pride in their own ethnic ancestries.

In "Brain Gain," Darrell West addresses why immigration policy is so politically difficult in the United States despite the substantial social, economic, intellectual, and cultural benefits it brings. The problem is largely one of vision. U.S. policy ought to recognize and reflect the tremendous benefits of bringing in new blood, yet public discourse and political debates tend to emphasize the perceived downsides. Fear too often trumps optimism and reason.

Democracy is messy, with policy principles that are hard to reconcile. The seeming irrationality of U.S. immigration policy arises from a variety of thorny and interrelated factors: particularistic politics and fragmented institutions, concern regarding educational and employment opportunities, anger over taxes and social services, and ambivalence about national identity, culture, and language. Add to that stew a myopic press, persistent fears of terrorism, and the difficulties of implementing border enforcement and legal justice. No wonder we can't see the forest for the trees.

West argues for a series of reforms to U.S. immigration policy, including the following:

Improve legal justice Take border security more seriously Tighten employment verification Depoliticize political conflict through an independent commission Tie immigration levels to national economic cycles Take stronger steps to integrate new immigrants into American life

These reforms will put America on a better course for the future and enhance our longterm social and economic prosperity. Reconceptualizing immigration will help us find the next Sergey Brin, the next Vartan Gregorian, or even the next Albert Einstein.

Contents 1. The Costs and Benefits of Immigration 2. Competing Policy Principles 3. Overcoming Particularistic Politics 4. Problematic Media Coverage 5. Shifting Public Opinion 6. Porous Borders and Unequal Justice 7. The Einstein Principle

"Darrell West understands that more than any stimulus or bailout, the most important step we can take to strengthen America's long-term economic health is passing comprehensive immigration reform. For America to compete in the 21st century, we need to be able to attract --and keep --the world's best, brightest, and hardest working. Everyone knows our immigration system is broken, but West provides the kind of facts and analysis we need to move the issue forward in Washington." --Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City "To deal with our fiscal and debt challenges, we need higher, sustained economic growth. A key element in a high growth economic strategy is changing our immigration policies to enhance productivity and innovation. Brain Gain provides a roadmap to do just that." --Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida "Darrell West gets it right when he frames the need for comprehensive immigration reform as a fundamental element of U.S. competitiveness in the 21st century. Brain Gain raises the questions that need to be asked if we truly want a debate about immigration policy that prioritizes the long-term economic development of our country." --Michael Holston, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Hewlett-Packard "At a time when so much heat, rather than light, is being generated around the issue of immigration, Brain Gain is an invaluable work that as dispassionately, factually, and objectively as possible analyzes the political and economic aspects of immigration and their effect on our nation. Writing with a level of thoughtfulness and intellectual rigor missing from the current debate and informed by rich sources of data, Darrell West tackles the question of why, despite so much evidence that immigration brings substantial economic, intellectual and cultural benefits to the U.S., immigration policy has been so difficult to resolve. In doing so, he has helped raise the level of national discussion about this issue to a new, more enlightened level. What he describes as "the complicated reality underneath the Statue of Liberty story line" is one that every American needs to both understand and think deeply about as we make decisions regarding immigration that will impact our shared future for decades to come." --Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York "The diminishing lead of the U.S. in innovation is not a speculation about the future, it is a fact, and immigration policy is an important reason. I've been reading West's new book on the problem, Brain Gain... [I] recommend it highly." --Clive Crook, ft.com (Financial Times blog)

Prefacep. ix
The Costs and Benefits of Immigrationp. 1
Competing Policy Principlesp. 21
Overcoming Particularistic Politicsp. 41
Problematic Media Coveragep. 65
Shifting Public Opinionp. 87
Porous Borders and Unequal Justicep. 107
The Einstein Principlep. 126
Notesp. 155
Indexp. 175
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780815704829
ISBN-10: 0815704828
Series: Brookings FOCUS Book
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 160
Published: 15th June 2010
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.23 x 14.61  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.41