Why Are 3 of the World’s Richest Men Calling for Immigration Reform?

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Three of the wealthiest men in the world are on the same page about the need for immigration reform in the United States. Together, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, and Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson penned a New York Times op-ed that calls on Congress to pass a bill that would reflect the country’s “self-interest.”

Gates, Buffett, and Adelson, who are worth a combined $184.3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, vary when it comes to political views. Buffett has contributed mostly to Democrats, donating more than $200,000 to Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee since Obama first ran for president, while Adelson has provided large support for Republican candidates, including $15 million to a Super PAC backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign in 2012, according to information acquired by Bloomberg. Gates has donated to both political parties.

However, the men put aside those differences to stand in support of movement on immigration reform, which would include opening the doors for immigrants who have earned STEM graduate degrees and creating routes to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The opinion piece called attention to the current policy, which — as seen in the recent influx of unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States, per reports by The New York Times – allows youth to reside in our country, but is stringent on legal pathways to citizenship. “We believe it borders on insanity to train intelligent and motivated people in our universities — often subsidizing their education — and then to deport them when they graduate,” Buffett, Gates, and Adelson wrote. 

Buffett, Gates, and Adelson are not the first, nor will they be the last, to come down hard on the stagnant state of Congress. The GOP-led House has failed to move forward on passing immigration reform more than a year after the Senate passed a bill. Buffett, Gates, and Adelson blasted legislators for choosing to be at a standstill until midterm elections, highlighting that the Senate-passed immigration reform bill could vastly improve the current state of affairs.

That bill includes a reform that would allow an unlimited number of visas to be obtained by immigrants who have earned a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, as long as they had an offer of employment. In the billionaires’ words, “for those who wish to stay and work in computer science or technology, fields badly in need of their services, let’s roll out the welcome mat.”

The businessmen cited the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which was created by Congress in 1990 to “allow a limited number of foreigners with financial resources or unique abilities to move to our country, bringing with them substantial and enduring purchasing power.” The men wrote that while this program was not perfect, a similar program would indeed help turn immigration to favor the economy, and requirements of investments in businesses or homes for continued citizenship could incentivize immigrants to contribute.

“Expanded investments of that kind would help us jolt the demand side of our economy,” they wrote. “These immigrants would impose minimal social costs on the United States, compared with the resources they would contribute.”

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