Why is America Recruiting from the World’s Least Developed and Educated Nations?

Successful companies recruit new employees by pursuing the best and brightest with a diverse set of experiences, education, and skills to grow their business. America’s immigration policies should similarly seek to recruit limited numbers of immigrants from a diverse set of nations who offer the most value to grow America’s economy for the 21st Century.

In 1970, roughly half of our immigrants came from the top 10 leading economies. Today the world’s 10 leading economies (following the U.S.) include China, Japan, Germany, U.K. France, Brazil, Italy, India, Russia, and Canada. While these 10 nations contribute to 45% of global GDP, they represent only 18% of our immigrants over the last 30 years.

We should be targeting immigrants from the most innovative nations across the world. Bloomberg recently ranked innovative nations based on their research and development, high-tech companies, and patents among other factors. The U.S. ranked third behind South Korea and Sweden.  Other leaders included Japan, Germany, Denmark, Singapore, Switzerland, Finland, Taiwan, and Canada.

We can also target immigrants coming from the world’s leading education systems: Canada, Finland, Japan, Poland, Singapore, Estonia, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

Yet instead of targeting immigrants from leading economies with innovative and educated workforces, the top 10 countries of origin for immigrants since 1986 include:


These 10 nations represent 60% of our legal immigrants over the last 30 years. Instead of tapping the largest, most successful economies, half the list ranks outside the top 50. Only two nations rank in the top 50 for innovation. Only three nations rank in the top 40 for education.

When you look at the full list of countries of origin for U.S. immigrants, you will see some shocking results:

  • The U.S. welcomed more immigrants from the poor, tiny island nations of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica than all of Europe.
  • We have roughly the same number of immigrants from our hostile adversaries Iran and Pakistan as our closest allies Canada and the U.K.
  • In 1970, Italy had the largest share of immigrants, today Italy ranks 55th, with twice as many coming from Iraq than Italy.
  • Nearly five times as many come from Afghanistan (with a 28% literacy rate) than our key ally Australia with the 12th largest economy.
  • More immigrants come from the Philippines than China or India who each have 10 times the population and economy.
  • Japan with the third largest economy is on par with Trinidad and Tobago, the 100th largest economy.
  • We welcome more from Bangladesh (one of the world’s least developed nations) than economic superpower Germany

As we seek to grow our economy for future generations, the U.S. clearly is not recruiting immigrants from the world’s leading nations. Why are we issuing millions of visas to some of the poorest, uneducated nations in the world? In addition to reducing the number of visas issued annually from one million, the U.S. must also reallocate the visas issued among nations. To grow our economy for the 21st Century, the U.S. must prioritize visas for educated immigrants coming from thriving, innovative economies.

The author of this guest opinion is a federal policy analyst.


  1. avatar Ray921 says:

    We should reduce immigration and importation of cheaper foreign labor while U-6 shows massive unemployment among Americans. We should also distinguish US citizens and non-citizens in our unemployment indices.

    We should give notice of withdrawal from the WTO, which effectively compromises US sovereignty by imposing huge penalties unless Congress removes the alleged conflicts with the US accession agreement found by a WTO Tribunal.

    Frankly, though both BHO and GWB adopted policies that have made a lot of things worse than they would’ve been, the US accession agreement for the WTO made recovery impossible while we remain in the WTO. Internet Gambling Legalized . . . Removal of COOL on food & drugs. . . Repeal of the Byrd Amendment. . . Complete H-1B Repeal Illegal. . . and more.

    Do I understand that your GDP measurement is NOT a per-capita GDP?
    Doesn’t that make more populous nations appear more advanced than they really are?
    Not that per-capita GDP is without problems. Why not examine serious research output or some proxy?

  2. avatar Al Hope says:

    TurnOverTheMoneyTables. Reasoned discussion for 30 years has failed due to the absence of aggressively radical political activism. Reasoned discussion alone will continue to fail so turn over the money tables.

  3. avatar J says:

    The US Government is working hard to hide immigration numbers from the voting public. Do not re-elect Nancy Pelosi who many times has said the all of this increased immigration is “GOOD FOR AMERICA.” Ms. Pelosi is not good for American.

  4. avatar JW IN THE DESERT says:

    i like to use the trucking analogy…”why should I hire “JW” at 50 cents a mile, when i can hire “Juan” at 25 cents a mile and pocket the difference”. That is what’s happening out here in the real world.-JW

  5. The Best of the Worst

    Let’s take a sabbatical from immigration. We have plenty of schools that are graduating these elite brains from our own American citizens that can’t find jobs either. Let’s admit it, we simply do not have enough work to do in America since we essentially stopped making stuff.

    • GREAT IDEA!!! obama is importing all kinds of illegal immigrants for voting democrat in the next election and also syrian muslims and ISIS to help him fight American citizens when he declares martial law and declares a dictatorship.

      • avatar Timothy says:

        Mary, get real: Bush was no different than Obama. Romeny, same deal. More more more third world immigrants to US! Both of them want the same thing.

        • I Think Mary Would Agree Its a TWO PARTY Fault

        • avatar Sandi says:

          The Democrats want them to increase their base by providing them handouts. The Republicans want them for cheap labor and to drive down labor costs generally (that’s why they increased the number allowed in on H1b visas). The Republicans don’t see that the number of businesses that have been driven overseas don’t need laborers from the US anymore.