New book by Ray Marshall: Value-Added Immigration

Former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall released his new book, Value-Added Immigration: Lessons for the United States from Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, at a forum at EPI this morning. The book examines the employment-based immigration policies of the principal immigration-receiving countries and contrasts their data and evidence-based policy development with our own very partisan policy making, which has been governed by ideology and interest group advantage rather than a rational examination of the national interest.

Marshall made clear at this morning’s forum that a realistic hope for progress depends on putting one federal agency in charge, gathering data for informed decision-making, and committing ourselves to pursuit of a high value-added immigration policy, rather than simply a pursuit of cheap labor.  Unlike Australia and Canada, which track the experience of immigrants in longitudinal studies and adjust their policies to improve outcomes, the United States does not even know how many “temporary” non-immigrant workers are legally in the U.S., let alone how they are faring.

Marshall was joined on a panel by three distinguished researchers: Philip Martin of the University of California, Davis, one of the nation’s foremost experts on agricultural economics and labor migration; Michael S. Teitelbaum of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Harvard Law School, a demographer and expert on STEM education and immigration; and Ron Hira, of the Rochester Institute of Technology, an expert on the offshoring of IT work and the relationship between our non-immigrant visa programs and the health of the domestic engineering and computer science workforces.

Martin and Teitelbaum, like Secretary Marshall, praised the flexibility of the Australian and Canadian systems and their use of rational, objective point systems to determine the admission of skilled immigrants. Each also praised the U.K.’s Migration Advisory Committee for its collection and use of very extensive labor shortage statistics, its use of “bottoms up” information from local businesses, unions and government sources, and its non-partisan method of researching, reporting, and analyzing whether importing workers is the sensible way to solve particular problems.  All three commenters agreed with Marshall that the current state of immigration and labor market data in the U.S. is far inferior to that in the countries studied and inadequate to the task of informing the policy debate.

Value Added Immigration: Lessons for the United States from Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, is available from EPI for $15.95.