Adelson, Buffett, Gates Slam House on Immigration Inaction

Image: Adelson, Buffett, Gates Slam House on Immigration Inaction Sheldon Adelson, left, Warren Buffett, center, Bill Gates.

Friday, 11 Jul 2014 12:35 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Berkshire Hathaway Inc. CEO Warren Buffett, Microsoft Corp. founder and former CEO Bill Gates, and casino magnate and conservative donor Sheldon Adelson called on the House to pass immigration legislation.

"Whatever the precise provisions of a law, it’s time for the House to draft and pass a bill that reflects both our country’s humanity and its self-interest," the billionaires wrote in a commentary in The New York Times. "Differences with the Senate should be hammered out by members of a conference committee, committed to a deal."

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Most Americans, they write, believe it is time to enact immigration legislation that works for both immigrants and the well-being of Americans, and it's possible to meet those goals.

"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," they wrote. While many of those people want to return home, many want to stay and work in fields that need their services, and they should be welcomed, the trio said.

The Senate included a "talented graduate" provision in its immigration bill last year, as well as a pathway to citizenship, the trio said, and Americans are a "forgiving and generous people" who are happy their forebears made it to the country.

But that doesn't mean to just open the doors and allow all immigrants to enter, they said. Instead, the country should make rules and ensure that "people breaking these rules, including any facilitators, are severely punished. No one wants a replay of the present mess."

In addition, they said, America's self-interests should be reflected. For example, the EB-5 investor program, created in 1990 to allow a limited number of foreigners with financial resources or "unique abilities" to move to the United States and bring their purchasing power, should be revisited, they said. Although there were reports of fraud, the three said the bill should be reformed to prevent such abuses while expanding it to allow it to become more effective.

The government could make such people's citizenship provisional, based on incomes or investments, they wrote, and in return, "new citizens like these would make hefty deposits in our economy, not withdrawals."

But no matter what the provisions, they said, it's time for the House to draft and pass a bill, as it is extending "an irrational policy" by default, creating a situation "depressing to most Americans" and "the three of us."

"Signs of a more productive attitude in Washington — which passage of a well-designed immigration bill would provide — might well lift spirits and thereby stimulate the economy," they wrote. "It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them."

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