The GPS Road Map for Making Immigration Work debuts Sunday, June 10, 8:00pm ET
Zakaria begins by taking viewers to Japan, a nation with a shrinking and aging population – and one of the world’s most restrictive immigration policies. Author and Economist editor Robert Guest (Borderless Economics, 2011), describes Japan’s extraordinarily strict immigration policy and its voluntary deportation program for foreign-born workers – a reversal of a 1990s repatriation policy for ethnic Japanese born in Brazil. Japan maintains a strong national cultural identity: less than two percent of their population is foreign-born, much less than the thirteen percent of foreign-born residents in the United States. Japan’s government incentives to families to have more children have not proven successful. Zakaria points out that nationalism has come at an economic cost to Japan: a shrinking economy and an aging population that is less innovative and productive than it would be with a younger workforce.
As a result, a lot of that “brain drain” ends up in Canada, where high-skilled workers unable to get American visas are encouraged to work, start companies, and pay taxes, according to New York City Mayor Bloomberg. Zakaria points out that the current cap on H-1B visas for high-skilled workers who wish to emigrate to the U.S. is 85,000 per annum – a figure that is less than half it was just a decade ago. And, more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies in America were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Bloomberg says a failure of leadership in Washington is to blame for American immigration policies that he describes as approaching “national suicide.” “[U.S. immigration policy] is the biggest economic issue facing this country,” says Bloomberg.
The largest obstacle to immigration reform in Congress, says Zakaria, is illegal immigration. Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, immigration law professor, and key contributor to the Arizona immigration legislation (SB 1070) currently making its way through the U.S. Supreme Court, says, immigration reform measures proposed at the federal level are unfair, saying “the employer gets the benefit by exploiting illegal aliens, but we, the tax payers, are left holding the bill, by paying all these costs.”
Allie Devine, an attorney and a former Republican state agriculture secretary who currently leads a Kansas coalition of mostly politically conservative farm and other business advocates, says that her constituents need access to immigrant labor to remain competitive.
In his analysis, Zakaria argues that time is past due for comprehensive immigration reform and the political focus on illegal immigration may be holding America back from progress – and it may also be misplaced. The Pew Hispanic Center recently issued a report that net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has stopped, prompting Zakaria to say, “we may be fighting the last war…and the one we need to tackle is the skills war with the rest of the world – and it’s one we’re losing.”
Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map for Making Immigration Work will replay on Saturday, June 16 at 8:00pm and 11:00pm ET and PT on CNN/U.S. It will debut on CNN International on Sunday, June 16 at 9:00pm and on Sunday, June 17 at 6:00am ET. Zakaria’s 2012 political series launched with a primetime special on health care in March. Future specials will examine America’s challenges for developing jobs and the politics of energy.