Immigration reform has once again become a topic of discussion and debate as the contest for the presidency heats up. During his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama made a call for changes to be made to U.S. immigration law that would make it easier for high-skilled workers to attain legal residency. Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicated that such changes could help to grow the struggling economy. Making changes to current immigration laws could help many struggling New Jersey families.

A recent report from the American Immigration Council notes that many immigrants are bringing their know-how and skills back to their home countries, because it is so difficult to legally remain in the United States. As a result, a lot of American-trained talent is leaving the country. This situation caused Thomas J. Donehue, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, to state his belief that we should allow the "world's most creative entrepreneurs to stay" in the United States.

The facts back up the Donehue's claims that immigrants are among the nation's most innovative businesspeople. Currently, 5 percent of immigrants own their own businesses, as compared to just 3.7 percent of native-born Americans.

Obama's recent speech to the nation echoed Donehue's sentiments. The President believes we should not be exporting the talent we are educating, noting that many undocumented children are brought to the country by their parents and receive education in our public schools.

Several of the most innovative American business figures of the last few decades have been immigrants, including Sergey Brin, founder of Google, and Steve Chen, founder of YouTube. It's safe to say the efforts of both individuals have re-shaped American society and culture.

The immigrant community has a lot to offer the United States, including a large talent pool. As policymakers consider changes to federal immigration laws, it is important to consider what immigrants can offer to the country. Rather than deporting gifted people, it may be best to keep them within American borders and continue to work toward economic recovery.

Source: Deseret News, "Immigration reform may spur economic growth, U.S. Chamber says," Elizabeth Stuart, Jan. 26, 2012