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Working to Prevent Wealth Creation

At the start of each semester, I receive about a dozen visits from extraordinarily polite graduate students from India. Almost all are doing graduate work in engineering at George Mason. Each one comes to me seeking on-campus employment. I must tell each one the truth that all such on-campus employment must be coordinated through GMU’s Office of Financial Aid.

What distresses me about these visits – beyond the fact that I’m never able to accept their offers of employment in my Department – is that I know that the F1 student visa that each of these students have largely prevents off-campus employment. This reason is paramount, I’m sure, among those that propel these bright, skilled, and energetic young people to go begging for employment on-campus.

This policy is both immoral and economically stupid. It treats productive people as piranhas. The alleged concern is that hordes of productive, hard-working foreign students will come to America and – gasp! – work very productively and hard and, thereby, eliminate jobs for real Americans.

First of all, this policy rests on the absurd notion that the number of jobs is fixed, or that more workers in the labor force means lower average wage rates.

Secondly, and more deeply, what sort of policy is it that intentionally prevents people from producing wealth?

I’m unfailingly amused whenever I encounter people who oppose more open immigration on the grounds that too many foreigners come to America in order to suck the tit of our welfare state. If this justification for limiting immigration were truly the reason behind restrictive immigration policies, then we would not witness the many prohibitions and restraints on work by immigrants and foreign students.


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