Immigration or Stagnation: Defending the American Experiment

In this novel atmosphere of denials and obstacles, the damage is two-fold: our nation is not only denying its righteous legacy, but also its rightful destiny.

Immigration or Stagnation
Rita Sostrin

Rita Sostrin

January 19, 2018 10:48 AM

A brilliant young engineer has the drive and entrepreneurship to rewrite multiple global industries and transform the world’s economy. An exceptional designer possesses the resolve and creativity to reimagine the fields of art and fashion.

But they both have a similar problem.

He is a Chinese foreign national who has always dreamed of pursuing his ambitions in the United States, but after obtaining advanced degrees from America’s premier research universities, his H-1B petition to work at a Silicon Valley tech startup was not selected in the annual H-1B lottery. She has studied at the finest institutes in Europe and has already amassed an astonishing portfolio back home in France, but her O-1 petition to work at a leading New York fashion house has recently been rejected. He now is forced to return to his home country, where he will be a big fish in a small pond and have no trouble finding a job. She will no doubt continue to nurture a groundbreaking career in her native country.

While both will be successful, the achievements that are inscribed in their futures may take longer to reach, and the fruits of this next Elon Musk and Vera Wang will not ripple across our economy in the U.S. as they could have.

Sound farfetched?

It happens nearly every day.

As an immigration lawyer who handles a high volume of extraordinary ability visas for the world’s elite in entertainment, arts, and sciences, I witness firsthand how the U.S. is hemorrhaging critical talent in today’s increasingly restrictive immigration environment.

In this novel atmosphere of denials and obstacles, the damage is two-fold: our nation is not only denying its righteous legacy, but also its rightful destiny.

It does not have to be this way.

As a bastion for the best and the brightest, the U.S. has long been enriched by the talent and dedication of immigrants. According to one study, two out of five Fortune 500 companies have been founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Immigrants are not only forging major U.S. industries, they are also a vital part of small businesses, the backbone of the American economy. These engaged and energetic individuals create jobs for millions of native-born Americans, allowing countless families to pursue the American dream alongside them. Just as importantly, they ensure our country’s economic security, and by extension, our national security in a world filled with escalating threats.

As well as the economy is doing, it could be doing much better. A roaring stock market and projections of higher GDP cannot mask the fact that the U.S. is facing an unsustainable debt that could cripple our long-term prospects in the absence of any economic backstop. The American economy has long been fueled by innovation, but what era will follow the age of computers and the internet? If biotechnology and the health sciences indeed represent the next transformative chapter of American ingenuity, we will need immigrants to write it, just as they have written nearly every chapter of innovation before it.

We cannot afford to expel or restrict these indispensable minds from our shores, only to watch as they return or stay home and help their countries compete against us. This makes little economic sense, especially for this gifted class of immigrants that gives far more to our nation than they take from it.

Yet even in the current constricting environment, there is a silver lining to the looming clouds. The immigration law community is a sword that has been through the fire many times. The best practitioners are now adopting new strategies to skillfully navigate this environment, just as they have done during other difficult periods. We are also becoming more proactive in conveying the crucial place that our clients have in both the American economy and in our society. Their stories are our stories, and how we continue to write them will ultimately determine if our nation’s future is filled with peril or promise.

Rita Sostrin is a partner at Sostrin Immigration Lawyers, LLP in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Sostrin has become known as one of the leading experts in immigration law matters for individuals of extraordinary abilities, including artists, entertainers, academics, and physicians. She frequently receives invitations to speak on advanced immigration law topics at national and regional conferences and to write for legal publications. Over the years, Ms. Sostrin has served in various leadership positions on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), including as chair of AILA’s California Service Center Liaison Committee, senior editor of Immigration Practice Pointers, and periodicals review board member for VOICE: An Immigration Dialogue and Inside Immigration.

Headline Image: iStock/Devonyu

Related Articles

The Price of Admission

by Janice Zhou

States and the federal government are engaged in a pitched battle over immigration and refugee settlement—with the legal profession caught in the middle, taking fire from both sides.

Immigration Reform in Connecticut

Loophole or Fatal Flaw?

by Joseph Begonis

Canada's Best Lawyers share their thoughts on the Safe Third Country Agreement

What Is the Safe Third Country Agreement?

There Is Hope after the H-1B Cap: Alternatives to the H-1B Visa

by Meredith W. Barnette

Alternatives and options if the change in H-1B visas applies to you or your business.

H-1B Visa Alternatives for 2018

U.S. Business Immigration: Year-in-Review

by Christian S. Allen

For more reasons than are probably appropriate to include here today, 2017 will be forever be burned into the memories of everybody in the U.S. immigration industry, and all HR and legal professionals who were involved in hiring and/or employing foreign workers in the U.S. No matter your political persuasion, 2017 turned out to not be anything like we all expected at the beginning of the year, fol

U.S. Business Immigration: Year-in-Review

Make the Workforce American Again

by Michael J. Wildes

The H-1B visa program allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations, including jobs in technology, engineering, science, architecture, accounting, and business.

Make the Workforce American Again

Chain Migration Solutions Desperately in Search of a Problem

by Aaron C. Hall

The White House insists that any new law giving Dreamers a permanent place in the United States also stop what it refers to as the chain migration problem.

Chain Migration

Interagency Cooperation: Raising the Bar for Immigration Compliance

by Kathleen Campbell Walker

Stove-piped legal representation is not advisable (e.g., only focusing on one agency segment or one portion of a filing process).

Immigration Compliance

Immigration Worksite Compliance Issues for Employers

by Maria I. Casablanca

Immigration worksite enforcement has become a balancing act between verifying eligibility to work and avoiding discrimination; thus it has merged two fields of law: labor and employment law with immigration and nationality law.

Immigration Worksite Compliance

Smart Policy and Smart Compassion

by David P. Berry

Why it makes sense to protect the Dreamers.


H-1B Planning for Fiscal Year 2019

by Lisa Koenig

Employers should be prepared to pivot.

H1-B Planning

Trump and Immigration: Separating Truth from Fiction

by Harlan G. York

Deportations aren’t up, but the people who are being deported are more “newsworthy.”

Trump and Immigration

Dilip Patel, 2018 "Lawyer of the Year" for Immigration Law

by Nicole Ortiz

Dilip Patel of Dilip Patel Law Firm was named 2018 "Lawyer of the Year" in Tampa for Immigration Law.

Dilip Patel LOTY

In the News: South Florida

by Compiled by Nicole Ortiz

A summary of newsworthy content from South Florida lawyers and law firms.

South Florida In the News 2018

In the News: Southern California

by Compiled by Nicole Ortiz

A summary of newsworthy content from Southern California lawyers and law firms.

Southern California In the News

Employers Must Soon Use Yet Another New I-9 Form

by Fisher Phillips

New document could be liability trap for unsuspecting employers.

Begin Using the New Form Now

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

The Best Lawyers in South Africa™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers proudly announces lawyers recognized in South Africa for 2023.

South African flag

Could Reign Supreme End with the Queen?

by Sara Collin

Canada is revisiting the notion of abolishing the monarchy after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing, but many Canadians and lawmakers are questioning if Canada could, should and would follow through.

Teacup on saucer over image of Queen's eye

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?


2022: Another Banner Year

by John Fields

Block O’Toole & Murphy continues to secure some of New York’s highest results for personal injury matters.

Three men in business suits standing in office

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers

by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Thirteen Years of Excellence

by Best Lawyers

For the 13th consecutive year, “Best Law Firms” has awarded the most elite and talented law firms across the country through a thorough and trusted data review process.

Red, white and blue pipes and writing on black background

The Upcycle Conundrum

by Karen Kreider Gaunt

Laudable or litigious? What you need to know about potential copyright and trademark infringement when repurposing products.

Repurposed Products and Copyright Infringemen

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests

by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Germany™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Germany.

Black, red and yellow stripes