Incompetence, political weakness and fear of foreigners looking for a new home created a cruel immigration policy. But this structural cruelty pales in comparison to comments from some lawmakers who tout their opposition to welcoming Afghan refugees to our shores after many of these refugees put their lives in danger for two decades aiding US soldiers in this war-torn country.
Fortunately, some state governors are breaking ranks with the nativists and have announced that they will welcome the Afghan refugees. “They supported our military efforts and served as translators, interpreters, drivers and more – and were instrumental in our country’s operations and the safety of American soldiers,” observed the governor of the United States. Arizona Doug Ducey. “They helped our fight to defeat terrorist organizations and defend human rights, and now their lives are in danger.” Good for him.
At the risk of sounding ungrateful, it would also be nice to see Arizona do one more thing: treat refugees like any other state worker. This could include extending the governor’s signature reform on professional licensing to such immigrant and refugee professionals. In April 2019, Ducey signed Arizona’s Universal Recognition Act, which allows professionals and workers licensed in other states to quickly obtain an equivalent license when they move to Arizona. This reform removes much of the counterproductive bureaucracy and red tape associated with obtaining a work permit.
Now, that doesn’t mean that once you arrive in Arizona, you can open a store without having to meet any requirements. But for the most part, a person moving to Arizona with an out-of-state license will be considered licensed after some paperwork, verification, and perhaps a test on state-specific laws and policies. This light and quick process relieves the so-called theaters of safety associated with most of the licensing requirements for low-skilled people. It also allows those who move to Arizona with skills and know-how to work quickly.
Unfortunately, this universal recognition does not apply to immigrants or refugees. This means that those who settle in Arizona will be allowed to work, but unlike residents of Arizona and those who have just moved to Arizona from other states, immigrants have to go through the tedious professional licensing process. and often unnecessary to have their diplomas recognized and to exercise their previous profession. .
An abundant academic literature on the issue shows that, unfortunately, this burden often means that these immigrants or professional workers find themselves either unemployed or underemployed. This barrier to employment is not only unfair, it also hinders the economic mobility of these immigrants as well as economic growth in these states. Everyone except the incumbents in the industry loses.
A tireless advocate for professional licensing reform, Shoshana Weissmann of the R Street Institute recognizes the need to address this issue. “It’s wonderful to see states follow Arizona’s lead after Governor Ducey adopted universal licensing recognition,” she told me. âThere is so much more to do for those moving from state to state or from country to country. services and prevent immigrants from succeeding.
She observes that lawmakers have noticed this as well. During the pandemic, some states – including New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts – let immigrant doctors and international medical school graduates work to varying degrees for brief periods. This model needs to be considerably expanded.
Weissmann points to a recent attempt in Missouri to change the way the state treats internationally trained doctors. She writes, âMissouri State Representative Derek Grierâ¦ introduced Bill 1211, which would allow doctors trained in other countries to work in the United States if certain conditions are met. The conditions are straightforward, she continues, explaining that they require proof that the physician “has graduated from an international medical program that has provided training” substantially similar “to that required to practice in Missouri, which he is in good standing with their country’s licensing board and have completed their residency in a qualified international medical program.
The Missouri bill did not pass, although it received some bipartisan support, indicating that a growing number of people agree that change is needed. Ducey was a leader in professional reform and now stands up against the fear of nativists. Will he see the need to extend universal recognition to immigrants and take the lead on this front as well?
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