Rutgers University professor publishes paper calling for a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration system to align with the needs of the economy

A professor of economics at Rutgers University and former Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, Jennifer Hunt was invited to submit a proposal for a complete revamp of the nation’s immigration system by the Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution. This document covers all of her suggested revisions to the current system.  The first section reviews the weaknesses of the current immigration system, including shortcomings in aligning the system with the needs of the economy. As an example, she refers to the pressing needs of the nation’s health care system, which are not adequately addressed largely because of a bias of “admitting workers primarily in male-intensive occupations.”  She also believes that a new system must reduce illegal border crossings and visa overstays. Otherwise, public opinion will turn negative on all immigration, both legal and illegal. Her general inclination is to increase forms of immigration beneficial to native-born Americans, specifically immigrants chosen by employers (not by any kind of point-based system) and immigrants in high-skilled categories. To achieve this increase, she would eliminate the F4 category of visas reserved for siblings of U.S. citizens. Her reforms would also reduce excessive wait times for visas by adjusting or eliminating caps in various categories. She also proposes changes to lesser-skilled programs, such as agricultural (H-2A) and seasonal non-agricultural (H-2B) visas to make them open to workers in a broader range of industries and to make them easier for employers to utilize.

Renewing America. Revamping Immigration,
Brookings Institution (The Hamilton Project), December 2022, 30 pp.
Author: Jennifer Hunt