Important to fix immigration system to boost economy: Jeb Bush

 Citing frustration of the H-1B visa holders from countries like India who don't get their permanent residency status for years, Republican presidential aspirant Jeb Bush today called for fixing of the US immigration system which he said is key to economic growth.

PTI| Updated: Feb 05, 2015, 23:31 PM IST

Washington: Citing frustration of the H-1B visa holders from countries like India who don't get their permanent residency status for years, Republican presidential aspirant Jeb Bush today called for fixing of the US immigration system which he said is key to economic growth.

"The high skills agenda that is desperately important for us where H-1B visa holders languish and don't get their status improved," Bush, the former Florida Governor, told a Detroit audience in a major policy speech the first after his announcement three weeks ago that he intends to run for the 2016 presidential elections.

By specifically mentioning H-1B visa holders, Bush as referring to the years of frustrating and agonising wait for these highly-skilled workers from countries like India to get their permanent residency status, in the absence of which many of them have started going back to their home country.

In some cases the current wait for H-1B visas is about 10 years.

Bush said, he knows for a fact that people are surprised that 40 per cent of the undocumented workers, undocumented people in our country have come with a legal visa and have just overstayed their time.

"The high skills agenda that is desperately important for us where H-1B visa holders languish and don't get their status improved," he said in response to a question.

"Investors, DREAMers, people that come to our great universities, all these people should be welcome in our country. The unwritten contract ought to embrace our values and you can pursue your dreams in this great country. By doing so you're creating opportunity for more people," Bush said.

Bush said there is "great frustration" in him about the lack of immigration reform.

"This should be the lowest hanging fruit, to be honest with you, because this is a huge opportunity. Immigration's not a problem. The immigrant experience in our country makes us unique and special and different, and it is part of our extraordinary success over time," he said.

"So while the political fights go on, we're missing this opportunity. I view fixing a broken system as a huge opportunity to get to that 4 per cent growth. If we're going to stick around the two percent run rate, it's a little bit higher this quarter, a little bit higher last. But that's kind of what the economists say. That's the new normal," he said.

"The new normal is European style growth. If we're going to do that then the demands on government are going to overwhelm a whole lot of people. But if we grew at 4 per cent, by all sorts of policies, but immigration has to be part of that," Bush said.