Americans are not able to compete on a level playing field, be it advanced degree holders or agricultural workers, as long as the employer controls the ability of the worker to remain in this country. The possibility of a green card is held out by the company as part of the compensation it can offer and has a very real value to the employee. The green card is actually a government subsidy to companies, and puts American workers at a disadvantage because they don't need one. Foreign graduate students that come to this country, particularly those in the sciences, are willing to take the grunt academic jobs because they hope to get green cards. American students place no value on the green card, and face an opportunity cost in pursuing a science graduate degree. Immigrants and American workers need a revision of immigration policy. Abolish guest worker visas and replace them with a reformed green card process (freeing workers to change jobs at will and to receive market salaries) or make them truly temporary, with no possibility of changing to immigrant status (foreign workers, knowing there's no chance of remaining in the US with this visa, will negotiate a salary to compensate). Either way, the green card economic benefit would be removed from the salary equation, and result in fair competition among US and foreign workers.
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