FILE ID:95100305.LAR




TR95100305 (Old system called ineffective) +eg (780)

By Eric Green

USIA Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The current system for selecting immigrants into the

United States has failed and should be replaced with a program that

chooses immigrants on their long-term potential for the U.S. economy,

according to the authors of a new study.

At an Oct. 3 forum here, Demetrios Papademetriou and Stephen

Yale-Loehr of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said

their proposals would save the Labor Department alone about $59

million a year by eliminating its labor certification process for

accepting selected economic immigrants, while also saving employers

between $135 million and $270 million a year.

Repeating points he made in "Putting the National Interest First:

Rethinking the Selection of Skilled Immigrants," Papademetriou, a

former immigration official at the Labor Department, said his former

agency's certification process "is a cruel hoax," in that only 0.5

percent of U.S. workers referred to jobs advertised by this process

are actually hired, while more than 99 percent of the time it is the

foreign national who gets the job.

Too often, he said, the foreigner who is hired lacks the education and

employment skills to make long-term contributions to the American


He urged abolishing the current labor certification system because it

does not work as intended, creates massive delays, and provides

virtually no protection for U.S. workers, as well as eliminating the

present immigrant visa category allowing for admittance of unskilled


Papademetriou said the current system for accepting what he called

"economic stream" immigrants (permanent U.S. workers) is designed to

admit foreign workers only in response to specific labor market

shortages which, he said, does not make sense in a global economy.

A system must be created, he added, that "harnesses the skills,

intelligence and energies of the best workers around the world in

pursuit of national economic goals."

Under the present system, Yale-Loehr said, an immigrant is allowed

into the country for a job "for a particular point in time, for the

moment, when actually they will be working here for 20-30-40 years."

"We think we should be choosing immigrants," he said, "based on their

skills and characteristics that show their long-term, sustained

contributions to the U.S. economy."

The authors said the immigration system must help the United States

remain competitive in a global economy that changes "relentlessly."

The present system, which they say has not changed in 30 years,

"simply does not make sense any longer."

Their study, Yale-Loehr said, proposes a three-tier method for

accepting foreign workers into the United States. The first tier would

admit aliens of "extraordinary ability, the future (Albert)

Einsteins," composed, for example of outstanding professors and


Under the second tier, what Yale-Loehr called "selection criteria

immigrants," would have to have a U.S. job offer and at least three

years of specific work experience in the occupation for which they are

being sponsored, and the sponsoring employer would have to agree to

pay the immigrant the same wage as the employer pays other individuals

working in the same field. Immigrants who satisfy these prerequisites

would also have to have a well-rounded education, younger workers

would be favored over older workers, and the immigrant would have to

be able to communicate effectively in English.

A third tier, similar to what is used in the present system, is

designed to attract foreigners who will invest $750,000 in new

enterprises that will create at least three full-time jobs for

U.S.-based workers.

Most economic stream immigrants, Yale-Loehr said, would fall under the

second tier, with job sponsorship ensuring that most immigrants will

be working as soon as they enter the United States.

"That's the best guarantee that they will adapt quickly to the

country," he said, "and adds a level of screening that will cost the

government nothing. We're letting employers decide whether people fit

our selection criteria up-front rather than having the government make

the ultimate decision. For that reason, it will be less burdensome and

intrusive than the current labor certification system."

The authors propose a point-system, modified from immigration laws

used in Australia and Canada, to determine which immigrants would be

allowed to enter the United States as a legal immigrant. The system,

which has a maximum of 23 points, with a passing mark of 15 points,

would be based on factors in the second tier of accepting immigrants

into the United States.