Hume: Senate immigration plan would be an 'improvement'

Question -- why have so many immigrant families from Asia done so well in this country? One reason surely is that they had to come a long way to get here. For all the wonders of modern travel, an ocean is a still a formidable obstacle and it tends to screen out the less able and less determined. The result is a relatively small subset of the U.S. population, about six percent, nearly half of whom have at least a bachelor's degree. They are, in short, the kind of people this country needs. This is why one of the most useful parts of the Senate immigration reform package rolled out the other day is a provision that would award green cards to immigrants who hold advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

Our technology sector is said to need about 120,000 computer engineering jobs every year. We graduate about a third of that number and many of those leave the country because their visas expire. A bill to award such people green cards passed the House last year but was blocked by Senate Democrats, who preferred to protect the current system, by which about 55 thousand green cards are awarded by random drawing each year to immigrants from countries who've previously sent few people to the U.S. It is known, not surprisingly, as the diversity lottery and has been notoriously subject to accusations of fraud.

The proposal to award green cards to the kind of skilled workers the country is now losing would certainly be an improvement.