Handbook on Migration and Social Policy
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Handbook on Migration and Social Policy

Edited by Gary P. Freeman and Nikola Mirilovic

In this detailed Handbook, an interdisciplinary team of scholars explores the consequences of migration for the social policies of rich welfare states. They test conflicting claims as to the positive and negative effects of different types of migration against the experience of countries in Europe, North America, Australasia, the Middle East and South Asia. The chapters assess arguments as to migration’s impact on the financial, social and political stability of social programs. The volume includes comprehensive reviews of existing scholarship as well as state of the art original empirical analysis.
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Chapter 24: The case of the missing skilled immigrants in the USA

Mariana Medina


It is widely believed that importing highly skilled workers would benefit the American economy, but despite its position as one of the most desirable immigration destinations in the world, the USA admits far more unskilled than skilled migrants, legally and illegally, as a consequence of its immigration policies. One of the most widely touted devices for increasing the share of skilled migrants admitted is some variety of a points system. The countries closest to the USA in terms of economy, culture and politics – Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK – have all adopted a points system in recent years. The USA has not. In this chapter, I will argue that immigration strategies aimed at attracting high-skilled migrants to the USA have not gained footing in the public debate because of the manner in which all immigration policy options, the points system included, have been forced into comprehensive reform packages rather than considered as stand-alone proposals. The reform proposals introduced in Congress over the last decade have included measures to improve enforcement at the border as well as steps to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the USA. Those favoring stronger enforcement could not support proposals to create a ‘pathway to citizenship’ for the vast majority of the undocumented because many viewed this action as a thinly disguised amnesty.

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