This post appeared in the Des Moines Register’s Business Technology and Innovation Section on July 20, 2014.
The battle over so-called H1B visas threatens to hamper the growth of Iowa’s startups, growing technology sector, biotech research centers and agricultural sciences.
Our public and private colleges teach students from sub-Saharan Africa, India, Malaysia and beyond. Our corn and soybeans are consumed by humans and animals around the world. John Deere and Vermeer equipment drills, mows, seeds, and crushes in parts of the world many Iowans would have trouble finding on a map.
The GOP, with thought leaders like U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, understand the economic impact of immigration, especially in Midwestern states that depend on immigrants for net population growth. Iowa, which barely represents 1 percent of the US population and far less of the global population, sells its goods to a disproportionately larger world.
Eric Cantor lost the Virginia primary earlier this summer and his party quickly moved to shelve immigration reform. The epidemic of paralysis that gripped the GOP and, therefore the House of Representatives, has done more to damage to the country’s economic prospects than the President’s hope for comprehensive reform.
Unlike Congress, we cannot allow a state of paralysis to affect our state’s next century of growth. The young minds at Iowa, Iowa State and all other Iowa colleges see a state that provides a wonderful place to live, grow and prosper. Many will go back to their home countries because of arbitrary quotas for H1B visas or decades-long line for green cards.
H1B visas are issued to people in a wide variety of profesisions. Medical, engineering and physics careers, to name a few. Those who hold them are our neighbors in rural and urban Iowa, generating economic multipliers through taxes, spending and investing.
Do we really want a paralyzed Congress to euthanize this growth in one of the most prosperous states in the Union?