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Noah Smith

Trump Rolls Out a Misguided Attack on Skilled Immigration

The plan reneges on a campaign promise and poses risks to the economy.
We need them.

We need them.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In his campaign and since winning the presidency, Donald Trump has promised to adopt a system that gives preference to skilled immigrants. He’s doing the exact opposite. This represents not just a breach of a campaign promise and a trampling of long-standing American ideals, but a threat to a key engine of prosperity.

So far, most of Trump’s attacks have come against the H-1B program. The H-1B work visa allows skilled foreigners to work in the U.S. when sponsored by an employer. Although the visa is nominally about temporary work, in practice H-1B holders often end up applying for green cards and staying in the U.S. permanently. Thus, H-1B is the country’s most important engine of skilled immigration.