The legal immigration system – the same one that has kept me in limbo for a quarter of a century – is reaching a breaking point. Skilled immigrants are returning home to the more fertile opportunities in China and India because America makes it almost impossible for talented immigrants to move here.
This, along with poor intellectual property law, stifles American progress in ways we can measure only by “what if”s. Many of the most brilliant grad students I’ve known have hailed from other countries; many more, I’m sure, simply couldn’t get in.
There’s a simple solution for this: do away with all immigration requirements altogether.
Our nation grew strong during a time when, for instance, immigrants to Virginia simply had to swear faithfulness to the country for citizenship, as Thomas Jefferson recounts in his “Notes on the State of Virginia.” Leaving was just as easy:
A foreigner of any nation, not in open war with us, becomes naturalized by removing to the state to reside, and taking an oath of fidelity: and thereupon acquires every right of a native citizen: and citizens may divest themselves of that character, by declaring, by solemn deed, or in open court, that they mean to expatriate themselves, and no longer to be citizens of this state.
Let’s recover the justice of such a system.