Sunday, May 19, 2019

Taxing Students and Promoting “Merit-Based” Immigration: The Connection

Does Trump want skilled immigrants... (Photo: Platt/Getty)

On May 17 President Trump used a Rose Garden speech to promote changes to the immigration law that would reduce the number of family-reunification green cards (which Trump calls “chain migration” visas) available to foreigners while increasing the number of employment-based green cards (“merit-based visas,” according to Trump). In other words, the United States would bring in many more highly educated immigrants than currently.

Many or most would undoubtedly work in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

On the same day the New York Times happened to run an article by Erica L. Green explaining how the GOP’s massive 2017 tax package “drastically raised the tax rate on so-called unearned income for children with assets and young adults in school”—that is, basically for “[s]tudents with large financial aid packages.” The article refers to the new tax burden on poorer college and graduate students as an “unintended consequence,” but in fact the same reporter pointed to this likely consequence back in November 2017, before the tax bill became law.

It may be a coincidence that Green’s article came out on the same day as Trump’s “merit-based immigration” speech, but the reality is that the two GOP policies are closely linked, as Politics of Immigration co-author David Wilson explained in November 2017. The tax burden discourages U.S.-born youths from enrolling in higher education while intensifying employment-based immigration “would bring in a still greater proportion of [foreign-born] college graduates,” he wrote then.

"In other words, people who match the profile of the students driven out of careers in science and technology by the House tax bill. Are the Republicans seeing these immigrants as replacements for US-born STEM workers? replace US STEM workers? (Photo: Piacquadio/Getty) 
"Of course this seems to contradict the politicians’ often expressed concern for 'middle-class Americans,' but it makes a lot of sense from the point of view of corporate America. After all, producing a homegrown physicist or software engineer requires a considerable investment of resources; immigrant STEM workers come with an education that was largely provided by their countries of origin, often at public expense."

Read the full article here:

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