America, you’re making a big mistake on immigration. And Canada thanks you

Strictly speaking, America, we Canadians should be quietly thanking you for your self-destructive immigration policies. They benefit Canada immensely. But friends tell you when you make a mistake. And you’re making a giant one by hardening your borders and your hearts to talented newcomers.

Last week, President Trump issued a sweeping order meant to block hundreds of thousands of foreign workers from seeking employment in the United States. The order will keep half-a-million seasonal laborers, students, and skilled professionals out of the country. This comes after nearly four years of anti-immigrant rhetoric and measures: family separations, a visa ban against certain Muslim countries, restrictions on H-1B visas and green cards, and more.

The instinct to protect jobs for American citizens now, at a time of massive unemployment, might be understandable, if harsh. But when you shut out foreign programmers, IT experts, engineers, researchers, doctors, entrepreneurs, and future executives, you’re not just shutting out competitors for employment. You’re shutting out the creators of your economic future.

Canada has some credibility on this topic. Our country has long had a reputation for openness and diversity. I am an immigrant myself; I came to Canada from Taiwan in the 1960s to build a rewarding life. But for the past four years, we have been throwing our doors wide open to court the smart people you’re rejecting, as well as the companies that want to hire them. And it’s working.

When the U.S. started building walls, Canada’s federal government started breaking them down with a program called the Global Talent Stream, which allows innovative companies to demonstrate the need for specialized skills and fast-track the entry of foreign workers. Even as the pandemic slows immigration arriving in Canada, the Global Talent Stream remains open for business. In fact, our federal government has worked hard to keep the program open, and even streamlined it further since COVID-19.

By Yung Wu for FORTUNE
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