NEW YORK (CBSNewYork / AP) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t holding his tongue when it comes to criticism of the U.S. immigration policy.
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In a major speech to the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, the mayor said the country risks “national suicide” if it doesn’t adopt a more welcoming policy.
“This is just craziness but we can stop it by offering a conditional visa to immigrants who have capital to back their business ventures,” Bloomberg said. “If the new company successfully creates jobs for American workers, the entrepreneur would receive a green card to stay and grow the business into the future.”
The mayor said current immigration laws are prohibitive to foreign students to have any incentive of wanting to stay in the United States.
“Turning these students out of the country is, to put it bluntly, about the dumbest thing that we could possibly do,” Bloomberg said. “Other countries are bending over backwards to attract these students and we’re helping them to do it. We become a laughing-stock of the world with this policy.”
Bloomberg suggested foreign students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology engineering or math from universities in the United States be allowed to remain and work indefinitely in the country indefinitely.
“Let’s offer them green cards when they finish their degrees and then we can get down to the real business of convincing them to stay,” he said.
The speech coincides with the release of a report by the Partnership for a New American Economy, of which he is a co-chair.
The study found that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or first generation Americans.
“People say, ‘Why bring more immigrants into this country when you have unemployed?’ Because that’s the solution to the unemployment problem in this country — more jobs being created by more businesses,” Bloomberg said.
The report found major corporations of the future potentially could be created outside the U.S. unless the country’s immigration laws undergo a major reform.
“We are in competition with the rest of the world for the best and the brightest. We have to make sure that they and their families want to stay here,” Bloomberg said. “The truth of the matter is, there are lots of alternatives for people in this day and age.”
Meanwhile, A month after promising to focus deportations on the most serious criminal immigrants, the Obama administration said Wednesday it has rounded up nearly 3,000 criminals across the country for deportation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said agents arrested 2,901 criminal immigrants in the last week alone. Each illegal immigrant arrested, he said, had at least one criminal conviction and more than 1,600 of those people had been convicted of at least one felony, including attempted murder, rape and kidnapping.
The weeklong roundup came just a month after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that immigration officials would focus enforcement efforts on serious criminals and delay deportation cases for most non-criminal immigrants who don’t pose a threat to public safety or national security.
“This is what we should be doing; this is good law enforcement,” Morton said. “It makes sense to be removing people who are committing crimes who are here illegally first and foremost.”
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