The Edmond Sun


June 24, 2013

BY THE NUMBERS: Immigration reform necessary for economy’s future

EDMOND — Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook Inc., recently said: “We have a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants. And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.”

Zuckerberg is right. For a nation that prides itself on being a land of immigrants, we make it surprisingly difficult to be a legal immigrant. For a nation that prides itself on being the “land of opportunity,” we close the doors of opportunity to too many talented people who want to live here. And for a nation that prides itself on possessing the world’s most innovative economy, we aren’t very open to attracting the world’s most innovative people.

Thanks to a bipartisan group of U.S. senators though, this might begin to change.

This month the U.S. Congress is inching closer (albeit slowly) to passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill — one that would significantly modernize our nation’s immigration policies. The measure, S. 744, would significantly enhance border security, increase the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. each year, and provide a (long) path toward citizenship for current undocumented immigrants. In short, it would make us safer, more prosperous and more consistent with our nation’s ideals.

While much of the attention will focus on the bill’s provisions to increase border security (to appeal to conservatives) and provide a (long) path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. currently (appealing to progressives), arguably the most important provisions would increase the number of highly skilled knowledge workers who will more easily be able to receive a visa to work in the U.S. It is this aspect of the bill that has attracted support from a who’s who of high-tech corporate executives including Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Eric Schmidt (Google), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo!) and Drew Houston (Dropbox). These leaders know that their continued success depends upon their ability to attract and retain the most innovative employees — something that is becoming increasingly difficult under current immigration laws.

The fact is that the limitations in the current employment-based immigration rules have made it impossible for companies to attract sufficient numbers of highly skilled employees because the U.S. government caps the number of employment-based immigration visas allowed for citizens of each country. Not only are the caps too low to satisfy the labor needs of American corporations, but they unduly limit the number of visas granted to countries like China and India who are sending more students to study in the U.S. each year.

These students come to the U.S. to get a college degree. They want to stay in the U.S. to work. But for too many, we don’t let them.

We can, and we should, change this.

The passage of S. 744 will begin to make these needed changes. Under the legislation, graduates in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines would be exempt from the employment-based visa caps, and the country-specific caps would be removed. In short, S. 744 would help ensure that today’s best and brightest workers have the chance to work here and build a better America.

In the amazing story that is America, it is our openness to new ideas, new cultures and new people that have continuously propelled us forward. It is our belief that all people, not just U.S. citizens, are endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that has built the American Dream. And it has been the waves of immigrants — the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free — that have made this the greatest nation on earth.

S. 744 is not a perfect bill — no legislation that has a chance of passage ever will be. But it will move us forward. Not only will this measure boost our economy, and increase the likelihood that the next generation of technologies are developed here in the U.S., but it gives us the chance to once again embrace our heritage. We are, after all, a land of immigrants. A people drawn to this place by the unique opportunities and freedoms it offers. A people bound together not by race, nor birthplace, but by a set of ideals. A people who regardless of birthplace or status, simply want to be known as “Americans.”

MICKEY HEPNER is the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Academy.

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    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

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    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
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    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

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    July 22, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
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