Li Liu is or was a graduate student at MIT who got caught up in post- 9/11 frenzy and as a result, after she had returned to China for a visit, it took her a year before she was a able to return to MIT and her studies. Another part of the delay was also due to the labyrinth of America's immigration laws which is second in complexity only to the IRS code.
America is failing to train enough domestic talent to to provide the supply of skilled workers U.S. companies need. Immigration laws must be greatly simplified to make sure no innocent student or legal immigrant becomes a needless victim of the bureaucracy. Needless to say, we do need to be mindful of the renewed emphasis on industrial and other espionage so that foreign workers involvement in sensitive work and work vital to the security and technological leadership of the United States is not jeopardized. There are a few simple things that can be done: (1) limit visas to three basic types: tourist, student and work; (2) limit permanent residency to those in the last category who have entered the U.S. legally and to students who possess advanced skills not available domestically; (3) limit a pathway to citizenship to those who have never entered the U.S. illegally and who read, write and speak English; (4) get rid of all of the other immigration legislation that permits chain immigrations and creates other loopholes; (5) grant a full scholarship to American doctoral students who maintain their grades and whose professors agree have promise and talent.
There is a rising clamor to shut the borders, keep out foreign people and goods and ostensibly to "keep in" technology and jobs. These are all legitimate aims if they serve the national interest. One of the most powerful elements of America's identity is its immigrant past, where "past" is the operative word. Today our goal must be to admit legally only those who are demonstrably needed to serve our national interest and provide the skilled and unskilled labor needed by higher education and businesses. Here the operative word is "demonstrably".
America can no longer be ambivalent about immigration. Our policies must be tailored precisely to our needs rather than to the fact that we were once a nation of immigrants or that we have millions of illegal aliens already present. The Indians perhaps would like to turn back the pages of time when they inhabited and controlled this continent. That is not going to happen and there is little likelihood that the indigenous peoples could have ever withstood the flood of European immigrants once this vast and largely unsettled continent was discovered. This would be true even if the Indians had battled initially tooth and nail to slaughter every visitor from abroad or drive them back into the sea. The past is gone. We can't get it back and it has little bearing on our present circumstances and needs. It is useless to argue about it. The past does not constitute a rational argument for any immigration policy.