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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  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

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    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

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    April 18, 2014

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    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

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    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
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    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

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