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Dear Editor:

An interesting news bite appeared in the U.S. Visa News Headlines at www.usvisanews.com for March 6th. Cristina Boullon reports that, this month, US Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota, will introduce the "21st Century Homesteading Act" that would make North Dakota and five other states beta test sites for a pilot project to get 5,000 special immigrant visas for people with advanced computer expertise. Though, at first, the proposal would only have covered North Dakota, Alaska and Mississippi, Sen. Dorgan has apparently widened it to include Texas, Florida and South Dakota.

In North Dakota, the nine counties that Sen.Dorgan had in mind have lost more than 40% of their population since 1960. They hope to reverse the trend by creating high-tech centers in each country with 500 visas per location. Ms. Boullon reports that $6 million has already been set aside as seed money for this innovative concept.

This is not the first time that politicians in the Rust Belt have turned to immigration to reverse the demographics of falling birth rates and a stubbornly stagnant economy. Previously, the Governor of Iowa wanted to create an immigration enterprise zone in his state for the same reason. While the INS continues to think of immigration as a political problem to be curbed, the leaders back home have already realized that it can provide the influx of workers necessary to sustain their states as more and more native workers retire with no one to take their place, all this at a time when social security benefits are becoming both more complete and more expensive. Who is there going to be to pay the bills?

The next Commissioner of the INS has to consciously work with the states and the Congress to use employment based immigration as a way to deal with the problem. Indeed, there is none other.

Gary E. Endelman
Immigration Attorney

Editor's Note: Mr. Endelman has previously written on the issue of immigration and an aging population in his article Immigration and the Graying of America.


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