AN OVERHAUL of US immigration policy is long overdue, based not on where an immigrant comes from, but on how much he or she can contribute to the American economy. The current system is an alphabet soup of categories and countrywide caps that do not line up well with the country’s economic needs. Only about 14 percent of green cards issued are related to employment, while about 66 percent are the result of family ties.
In recent years, the system has become even more complex, as countries that signed free-trade agreements with the United States used their leverage to carve out special deals for their own citizens. Chile is allowed work visas for 1,400 professionals each year. Singapore gets 5,400. Australia gets 10,500. So it’s not entirely surprising that Senator Scott Brown is seeking to add Ireland to this list, with 10,500 work visas for Irish people with college degrees. Brown’s bill would make Ireland the first country to get this deal without a free trade treaty.