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It's about jobs. If industry provides them in a community, then the economy is better there than if it doesn't.
The more jobs, the better Ketchikan's economics.
It's the same elsewhere, and it's particularly true when those jobs are filled by people who have a vested interest in the community, are residents, support the local businesses and governments, and intend to invest in the community (or the nation in which that community is located) for their entire lives.
America needs to take care of this economy before it can take on the troubles of others.
Whether it's immigration or worker visas for foreigners coming here to take jobs, if the nation can't take care of itself, it is certainly not likely to do well with the next generation of immigrants. Nor does hiring non-citizens help in the long term; it's a short-sighted response to what can be a difficult situation for businesses.
Business brings in workers from other nations sometimes — not always — because it cannot find a full, affordable and willing-to-work workforce here. Workers need to want to work. Workers must be reliable, trained, able to work amicably with others and, often in industry, must be able to pass a substance screen.
That workforce isn't always available in specific industries requiring industry to seek workers who come to this country equipped with a work visa. For example, Alaska's seafood processing industry depends on the J-1 Visa program for foreign students to man stations in its plants because American students no longer come to do them in the numbers they have in the past.
Of course, as with many situations, any visa program can be corrupted. Industry occasionally is accused of importing cheaper workers to replace higher paid Americans. In some cases, the Americans might be training their replacements.
Arguments for worker visas can be made on both sides of the issue, and have been for a long while. But, with all of the job-shortage talk and the immigrants coming here to find work, the practice should be reviewed and revised with the idea of putting more Americans to work, building industry and planning for future immigration. Immigration is something the nation can expect; it should be prepared for it.
The government estimates that 600,000 non-citizens are in the country at any one time employed as a result of work visas. That number represents a lot of jobs. Not only should Americans be able and willing to do at least some of them, but it's indicative of how this nation needs to plan for the future.