Another recent poll, of 2,006 registered voters conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center and Morning Consult, also showed support for more liberalized policies on international students and high-skilled immigration. “Over half of voters say that increasing high-skilled employment-based immigration (57%) and allowing foreign students with in-demand degrees to stay and work in the U.S. (56%) would have a positive impact on the economy,” according to the survey. Only about 12% to 13% thought more welcoming policies would have a negative impact.

Economists (and their research) overwhelmingly support the United States liberalizing rules for international students and employment-based immigrants. Economists Giovanni Peri, Kevin Shih, Chad Sparber and Angie Marek Zeitlin found the annual numerical restrictions on H-1B petitions harm job growth for U.S.-born professionals: “The number of jobs for U.S.-born workers in computer-related industries would have grown at least 55% faster between 2005-2006 and 2009-2010, if not for the denial of so many applications in the recent H-1B visa lotteries.”

The polling found that language matters: “Across political party and race/ethnicity, voters are more likely to say employment-based immigration would have a positive impact when using the term high skilled compared to immigration broadly.” The survey also found, “Among Republicans . . . the most impactful messaging focus on competitiveness with China and having an economy for the future.”

The polling comes as efforts to liberalize rules for foreign-born scientists and engineers have been blocked in Congress, most recently in 2022 by Sen. Charles Grassley. Grassley prevented green card exemptions for foreign nationals with master’s and Ph.D.’s in science and engineering fields from being included in the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled since 2013, largely due to that country’s more attractive policies for companies and high-skilled immigrants compared to the United States.

Surveys cannot determine policies. However, polling and the real-world experiences of businesses combined with sound analysis can point toward a better path.