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Global Lessons, The GPS Road Map for Making Immigration Work

Aired June 16, 2012 - 20:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Welcome to a GPS special, "Global Lessons: The GPS Road Map for Making Immigration Work." I'm Fareed Zakaria.

Immigrants founded America hundreds of years ago coming to the promised land in search of freedom and opportunity and pursuit of the American dream. Today, many Americans see immigrants as a danger to that dream. They worry that immigrants are taking their jobs, using government services, changing the country's national identity. The average American believes that 39 percent of the U.S. population was born abroad. The real figure is 13 percent. Still, the highest level since 1920.

Immigration is divisive. A wedge issue in this election year. But most Americans, 73 percent of Americans, agree that the government is doing a poor job of managing immigration. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls our approach to immigration suicidal.

So how should we handle immigration? Does anyone do it better?

In this hour, and in a "TIME" magazine essay, we'll journey to Japan, Europe and Canada. We'll find out what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong, and what we can learn.

First, let's visit a country with one of the strictest immigration policies in the world. A place that has tight control of its borders, few illegal immigrants, and a strong, coherent national identity. What are the effects of keeping foreigners out? Let's get started.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): Japan's economy was once the envy of the world. Now it's limping along, projected to grow less than 2 percent a year over the next five years.

Here's one possible reason. The nation's population is shrinking, dramatically. Japan's current population is around 127 million. It's on pace to be just 90 million by 2050, a drop-off of almost a third.

The nation is also ageing. Almost one in four people are 65 or older, making Japan the oldest country on earth.

ROBERT GUEST, THE ECONOMIST: By 2040, the median age in Japan will be higher than the median age in Palm Springs, which is a retirement resort.

ZAKARIA: Robert Guest, the business editor of the "The Economist" is the author of "Borderless Economics," a fascinating read on migration and the world economy.

Japan's aging, shrinking society, he says, faces an alarming labor shortage.

GUEST: It's just incredible. I mean, they don't -- they literally do not have the people to man the schools. Can you imagine why the dynamism of a society that's that old, that has so few young, active brains coming up with new ideas?

ZAKARIA: There's a simple solution, he says. Open the borders and invite more immigrants. But Japan has historically been closed off to outsiders. It has a foreign-born population of less than 2 percent. Six times smaller than America's percentage.

GUEST: They don't have the idea that you can become Japanese. And they don't have the idea that you can solve some of the country's chronic labor problems by importing foreign hands.

ZAKARIA: For example, in the health care sector, Japan is estimated to be short almost 900,000 workers by 2025. It started to invite foreign nurses, including Robia Manaf (ph) from Indonesia. Manaf arrived four years ago in Japan, but before she could start practicing she had to endure months of training. With no guarantee that she could stay.

Japan's nursing proficiency exam is notoriously difficult.

GUEST: They expect them to have a totally unrealistic level of expertise in written Japanese, which frankly is very difficult to learn.

ZAKARIA: Since 2008, close to 600 foreign nurses have come to Japan. And only 66 have passed the test. Manaf was one of the lucky few.

ROBIA MANAF, NURSE (Through Translator: I was really happy, but, on the other hand, I thought, that's really terrible. My friends over here, they didn't pass. Even though we had studied together.

ZAKARIA: Japan's health ministry has made the test easier, adding some English translations. But critics still say it is unreasonable.

GUEST: It should be good enough that they're able to communicate verbally with people. And that they're able to read the words that they need to know for the tools of their trade. It works perfectly well in other countries.

ZAKARIA: What's more, it isn't just foreign workers who run into trouble. In some cases, it's immigrants who have been living in Japan for decades. In 1990, facing a labor shortage, Japan gave ethnic Japanese from South America long-term resident status, filling gaps in its work force.

GUEST: They said, well, we don't really want to let foreigners in. But there's some people who are kind of Japanese. Maybe we should let some of them come in and do the jobs. And so they let in some people from Brazil.

ZAKARIA: Japanese Brazilians filled manufacturing jobs and became the third largest minority in Japan. But in 2009, with unemployment running high, Japan actually offered them money to leave the country. $3,000 for each worker and $2,000 for each dependent to cover travel expenses.

Masami and Lusinade Miabi (ph) have lived in Japan for over two decades. Their three daughters were all born here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Through Translator): I thought for my part, they didn't need people like me here anymore.

ZAKARIA: To add insult to injury, anyone who took the offer couldn't come back to Japan with the resident status they once had. The flight was essentially a one-way ticket. The government says it was only trying to help unemployed Japanese Brazilians. They stopped offering the deal and are reconsidering the resident status of those who took the money. But so far nothing has changed.

GUEST: They've got this crazy idea that if you pay these people to go away that will make everyone else richer. That's simply not true.

ZAKARIA: So if Japan won't let in immigrants, what is it doing about its labor shortage? It's encouraging families to have more children. Giving them $165 a month for each child. But that hasn't been enough to inspire a growth spurt. Another solution?

GUEST: They're even going to the stage of saying, well, if we can't get any actual human beings to look after our old people, we're going to have to try and design robots who can do it. Is that an adequate alternative to the human touch? So far, I think not.


ZAKARIA: If Japan suffers a cost for not taking in immigrants, the next place we'll visit carried out one of the most dramatic migration experiments in history. How is it doing? Find out next.


ZAKARIA: Japan's closed-off approach to immigrants is a losing strategy. And their economy is suffering for it. Europe faces a similar demographic crisis, but it is trying a more open approach to immigration. How's that going?


ZAKARIA (voice-over): It's easy to forget that the European Union itself is one of the most ambitious migration experiments in history. Half a billion people are allowed to roam freely within the EU's borders. Many predicted that swarms of people from poorer nations like Poland and Romania would move to rich countries like Germany and France. That never happened.

Only 3 percent of working age EU citizens live in a different EU country. But the EU has not dealt well with immigrants from outside its borders. There's been a nasty political backlash. With anti- immigrant parties thriving in Greece, the Netherlands and France.

Rather than rejecting these extremists, Europe's mainstream politicians have pandered to them. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British prime minister David Cameron, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all declared that multiculturalism in their countries is a failure.

CEM OZDEMIR, GERMANY'S GREEN PARTY: They all agree multiculturalism is dead. It's amazing that they agree on that, but they do not agree when it comes to euro and other issues.

ZAKARIA: Cem Ozdemir, born in Germany to Turkish migrant workers is now the head of the country's left-leaning Green Party.

OZDEMIR: If you say we're not a multicultural society, it automatically forces me to ask, so what are we then? Are we a one- color society? Certainly not. I don't think anybody really wants to go back to the '50s.

ZAKARIA: One person who does, Thilo Sarrazin. A former board member of Germany's central bank. In 2010 he released an anti-immigration rant called "Germany Does Away with Itself."

"I don't want the country of my grandchildren and great grandchildren to be largely Muslim," he wrote. "If I want to experience that, I can just take a vacation to the Orient."

The book was a runaway best-seller.

OZDEMIR: And that, I think, was a clear warning to the political class, to the elite of this country, that out there something is growing which is not very nice.

ZAKARIA: It's not just words. Violence against immigrants is a big concern in Germany. One particularly horrific act in the '90s inspired Ozdemir to run for office. A Turkish woman's home was fire bombed, killing five of her family members.

OZDEMIR: I met her. And I promised to myself in the next German parliament, which was elected 1994, somebody from that community has to be represented.

ZAKARIA: Ozdemir became the first ethnic Turkish member of parliament at age 28. Now he helps his nation to answer a very basic question. What does it mean to be German?

OZDEMIR: Can you be a German and have a head scarf at the same time? Can you be a German and practice Islam at the same time? And after 9/11, that became more different.

ZAKARIA: Germany's government has made an effort to better integrate Muslims with the rest of the population. Meeting with Muslim leaders at an annual German Islam Conference since 2006. And there's an intriguing effort in one of the nation's universities to reach out to Germany's imam's.

DR. RAUL JALON, PROFESSOR: The imam role has changed in Germany.

ZAKARIA: Dr. Raul Jalon (ph), a professor of British studies, interviewed hundreds of imams and found that the vast majority of them are immigrants and don't speak German. But the radical imams often do speak the language, like the ultraconservative Salafis.

JALON: Fundamentalists, Salafi's groups, for example, are very, very attractive for youth people because they can speak German. They know the reality of the Muslim teenagers.

ZAKARIA: So Jalon started a program for moderate imams to help them better understand Germany.

Salih al-Janabi (ph), an imam from Lubbock, is learning about Germany's education and health care systems along with other aspects of German life. He hopes to apply that knowledge to help the people in his mosque.

SALIH AL-JANABI, IMAM (Through Translator): You have to also explain that life here in Germany is different from the life in their home country.

ZAKARIA: Other imams in the program have taken field trips to the legislature for a civics lesson and visited a synagogue to learn about Judaism. They've gained a much deeper understanding of Germany's culture.

JALON: It's a learning process for both sides. For Muslim community and for the government and for the German society, of course.


ZAKARIA: Germany is certainly making strides. But throughout Europe, immigrants feel alienated and the native-born population feels overwhelmed by foreign influences.

Is there any nation out there that's getting immigration right? We'll show you one, when we come back.


ZAKARIA: If Japan's strict immigration policy serves as a cautionary tale and Europe's experiment is still a work in progress, then perhaps the next country on this GPS road trip is a place that's getting it right.

I'm talking about Canada, a nation with more foreign-born per capita than America. A nation that now has the most successful set of immigration policies in the world.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): If you have never been to Calgary, you might know it for its annual stampede. Ten days of cowboys, rodeos. Last year, the royals. And, of course, its Muslim, cowboy hat wearing mayor. What? Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The great thing about Calgary is nobody thinks it's funny that a guy who looks like me in a cowboy hat is sometimes the image of this city. People just accept that.

ZAKARIA: When Naheed Nenshi became the first Muslim mayor of a major Canadian city in 2010 --


ZAKARIA: -- he shattered Calgary's redneck stereotype.

NENSHI: When I was running for office it was only people who were not from here who said, whoa, is Calgary ready for a mayor like that? The people from Calgary just said, yes, it's a kid from the east end. We know him.

ZAKARIA: And Calgary is getting used to seeing new faces. Erica Rodriguez is a chemical engineer who had seven years of work experience in her native Bogota, Colombia.

ERICA RODRIGUEZ, CHEMICAL ENGINEER: I was looking for better opportunities for my career.

ZAKARIA: She lives in Calgary now and is a project engineer for a consulting firm in the oil and gas business. An industry that's booming throughout western Canada.

RODRIGUEZ: I was looking better quality of life, different quality of life. And being both in a multicultural society with equal opportunity for everybody.

ZAKARIA: Canada may not have the cache the U.S. does. But "The Economist" business editor Robert Guest says it holds great appeal for would-be immigrant immigrants.

GUEST: Canada offers many of the same thing that America does. Very high standard of living. The rule of law, peace, safety.

ZAKARIA: Canada is even more appealing to immigrants with something to offer. A hard-to-find skill or an advanced degree.

GUEST: Then they've decided to cherry pick. They say, you know, we're a rich country. We can attract the best and the brightest from the rest of the world.

ZAKARIA: To determine whom it should let in to live and work, Canada uses a point system. You don't even need a job or an employer, just skills. Applicants are awarded points for proficiency in education, languages and job experience.

Just why is Canada so ready to accept immigrants with open arms? Because it has to be. The nation is sparsely populated, has a low birthrate and needs immigrants for population growth and economic growth. NENSHI: We had to build something here out of the bald Canadian prairie.

ZAKARIA: In Canada, almost two-thirds of permanent visas last year were given for economic needs. Canada's economic needs, that is. The country brings in the majority of foreigners to fill labor holes. Only 22 percent of its immigration was for family reasons. Reuniting mothers with children, brothers with sisters, grandparents with grandchildren.

In the United States, the opposite is true. Only 13 percent of green cards last year were doled out for economic reasons, while two-thirds were for family reunions.

NENSHI: Grandparents are important. You need them. But also having skilled trades people and people who are skilled in more professions where we have labor demand.

ZAKARIA: But, of course, booming industries can go bust. Who gets hired and who gets fired can be unpredictable. So to help immigrants find jobs, the Canadian government funds programs like this one at Bow Valley College.

NENSHI: We know you guys have the technical skills. It's those other skills that we know are different from one country to another.

ZAKARIA: Erica Rodriguez is a recent graduate.

RODRIGUEZ: I came here with the same hopes you have.

ZAKARIA: She now works at a consulting firm in the oil and gas industry and looks forward to officially becoming Canadian.

Canada's real challenge, says Mayor Nenshi, is ensuring the economic and social integration of immigrants once they're living in the country.

NENSHI: It's not about burqas and kirpans. It's about saying to an engineer who's trained in Iran or China, how can we get you working as an engineer instead of a janitor as quickly as possible? These are very serious challenges and we haven't got it right. But I would much prefer we focus our energies there rather than on these meaningless culture war discussions that occasionally crop up. Because those don't make a difference in people's lives.

ZAKARIA: The public and parliament in Canada generally support continued immigration.

NENSHI: Immigration is unambiguously good for the economy. We know that those folks come, they invest here, they create jobs, they work here. There's not much of a policy debate on that in Canada.

ZAKARIA: While the prime minister of Great Britain, the former president of France, and the chancellor of Germany have all declared that in their context, multiculturalism has failed, that is not so many Canada, says Mayor Nenshi.

NENSHI: I'm not here to question their reality. It's their reality. But I think it's important for us Canadians, and particularly for Calgarians, to really tell a story loudly and proudly about a place where it works. Where diversity works, where multiculturalism works, where pluralism works. It ain't rocket science.

ZAKARIA: Even when Canadians misunderstand immigrants they can laugh about it as captured in the hit sitcom "Little Mosque on the Prairie."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, I assumed it would be all Muslimy and shady, you know, like those guys from Hamas.


NENSHI: It's not utopia. Everyone doesn't automatically understand everyone and live together. But the best thing about that show is that in the best Canadian tradition it shows when you screw it up and misinterpret somebody, you get to laugh about it.


NENSHI: I think that that is a great, great metaphor for how this country works.



ZAKARIA: Canada's economy is thriving because it actively seeks immigrants to fill labor gaps and then grants those immigrants the full benefits and opportunities of being Canadian.

Up next, why New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks our immigration policy is national suicide.


ZAKARIA: What would America look like today if we had told immigrants like Sergay Bren or Albert Einstein to get lost? You don't have to be a nuclear physicist to know we would be much worse off. Yet every year the U.S. turns down educated, entrepreneurial immigrants. One man says, that's national suicide.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: Let's just suck it up and deal with the issue rather than sit there and point fingers.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York and a billionaire businessman, has made immigration one of his signature issues.

(On camera): You look at the danger of the current approach we have to immigration as quite substantial economically in terms of our competitiveness.

BLOOMBERG: It is the biggest economic issue facing this country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pledge allegiance to the flag --

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Bloomberg points out that immigrants have always been prolific job creators in America. Just look at the nation's "Fortune 500" companies. More than 200 of them were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Including Google, Yahoo! and Intel.

BLOOMBERG: There was always an influx of new immigrants to carry on and to lead and to push, and now we're trying to stop it.

ZAKARIA: For example, the cap on applications every year for an h1b temporary work visa geared towards high-skilled foreign workers was 195,000 in 2003. Since 2005, it's been only 85,000 per year. In 2008, the cap was filled in just one day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My fellow graduates --

ZAKARIA: What's more, we're not only rejecting entrepreneurs, we're turning away tomorrow's scientists.

(On camera): We let in lots of people from all over the world to study at American universities.


ZAKARIA: Particularly in science and engineering.


ZAKARIA: Then we throw them out.

BLOOMBERG: We don't give them a green card, and they have to leave, and so they take all of the benefits of the greatest university and graduate school education any place in the world.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Foreign students at American universities received over half of all doctorates in engineering, math, computer science and economics. And we desperately need their skills. American companies are struggling to fill over 3.5 million job openings. Many of which are in science and technology.

BLOOMBERG: We are deliberately driving away people that are starting new businesses, and these new businesses are starting elsewheres. And you will never get those back.

ZAKARIA: Case in point? Meet Kunal Bahl. A 28-year-old entrepreneur from India. His dream was to start a tech company in Silicon Valley. He got an engineering degree and a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania. And a job at Microsoft in Seattle.

KUNAL BUHL, SNAPDEAL.COM: My plan was, work with Microsoft for about two to three years, gain a bunch of experience there and then move to Silicon Valley. Work with a start-up there for maybe two, three years. And then start my own company. ZAKARIA: He says Microsoft applied for a work visa on his behalf so he could stay on there after his student visa ran out. But Bahl was rejected, despite his Ivy League degrees.

BAHL: If they want me here, I would love to be here. Because I can learn a lot. But if it's going to be that hard for me, then I'm better off just going back to India and starting a company now than waiting five years in the U.S.

ZAKARIA: So Bahl went back to New Delhi and started a Web site out of his bedroom. Two years after its launch, the site is expected to generate $100 million in revenue in 2012 alone.

BAHL: We essentially built one of the largest e-commerce companies in the country. People often refer to us as the Amazon of India.

ZAKARIA: Bahl's outfit has created around 1500 jobs and counting. And the future looks bright. Bahl expects to go public in a couple of years in the United States. But the jobs he will create will all be in India.

Of course, you don't have to go halfway around the world to see America's brain drain.

BLOOMBERG: You'll find big branches of all the West Coast companies in Canada. Why? Because the engineers can't get in to America to work at their West Coast facilities.

ZAKARIA (on camera): So these guys go to, say, the University of California at Berkeley in engineering. They can't stay in America, so they go to Canada?

BLOOMBERG: That's correct. And work for American companies in Canada.

ZAKARIA: But, of course, pay Canadian taxes and file Canadian taxes.

BLOOMBERG: Absolutely.

ZAKARIA: Under a President Bloomberg administration, what would immigration law look like in the U.S.?

BLOOMBERG: Well, there's not going to be a President Bloomberg administration. But the ways you create jobs for Americans is to bring in entrepreneurial immigrants who have skills and those who come here for education and have skills and make sure they stay.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Mayor Bloomberg has created a rare bipartisan coalition to fix immigration called the partnership for a new American economy. An impressive list of public officials and business leaders, including Jeff Buchus, the CEO of CNN's parent company, Time Warner, and even News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch, a naturalized American citizen himself.

(On camera): How would you fix the visa system? BLOOMBERG: Well, the first thing is you attach a green card to the diploma for any graduate student that gets a masters or a Ph.D. in any of the STEM areas, science and technology. If somebody is willing to start a business and can get financing, you certainly want to give them a visa because they will go and start businesses for Americans. And, lastly, when you have jobs that we need to get done but Americans won't take, like working in the fields, letting the crops rot or letting the farms move south of the border is just insanity. We need to get people in here.


ZAKARIA: But when it comes to inviting low-skilled workers to America, consensus is a lot harder to find.

When we come back, we'll tackle the biggest stumbling block to immigration reform. Illegal immigration.


ZAKARIA: We've heard the economic argument for fixing our nation's skilled immigration problem, but the U.S. has a thorny challenge. Illegal immigration, mostly from Mexico.

The average American makes three times as much as the average Mexican. It is the greatest such gap between neighbors that share such a long border. And we won't fix America's immigration system until we come up with a practical solution for dealing with the immigrants who are already here.


ZAKARIA (on camera): When you look at New York City's undocumented immigrants, illegal aliens, call them what you will, what lessons have you drawn?

BLOOMBERG: Well, undocumented have very low crime rate. Why? Because they're scared to death they're going to get arrested.

ZAKARIA: And deported.

BLOOMBERG: And deported.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has a unique perspective on the situation. As the chief executive of the city with an estimated half a million undocumented residents.

BLOOMBERG: Undocumented are not unemployed. They take jobs. They may be in the cash economy, off the books. But they work. America is not a place to come put your feet up and just take welfare. It's a very competitive place. If that's what you want to do, you should stay home. Wherever home is.

ZAKARIA: Bloomberg says the undocumented don't use public schools because they usually leave their kids in their home country, and they don't use health care much because they tend to be young and healthy. And to top it all, he notes about 75 percent of New York City's undocumented immigrants pay taxes.

BLOOMBERG: Employers withhold. And then the government says, well, this guy didn't earn enough. We have to send the refund. To where? The documentation doesn't exist or is fraudulent.

ZAKARIA: That certainly defies conventional wisdom.

Well, listen to this idea from the heartland.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eighty percent Hispanic in their high school now.

ZAKARIA: An alliance of 25 agricultural and trade groups has an interesting proposal for jobs that are hard to fill. Use illegal immigrants.

Ally Divine, a powerful Republican and a former Kansas agriculture secretary, runs the Kansas Business Coalition.

ALLY DIVINE, KANSAS BUSINESS COALITION: Whether you're Republican or Democrat, at some point we have an obligation to address this issue as a nation.

ZAKARIA: The coalition came up with Kansas House Bill 2712. The legislation would allow illegal immigrants to work in industries with labor shortages if they have lived in Kansas for five years, have no felonies, and commit to learning English. Divine, a lifelong Republican who worked in the first Bush administration, says the proposal has divided her party.

DIVINE: One of the statements they'll say is, what don't you get about illegal?

ZAKARIA: And then there are those Republicans that acknowledge that immigration policy is broken and that it should be re-evaluated in the context of communities and people in them.

BILL GORDON, SIGNATURE LANDSCAPE: We need bigger mowers, right? So how are we doing on --

ZAKARIA: People like Bill Gordon. The owner of Signature Landscape. He says he finds it hard to get his fellow Kansans to come to work for him.

GORDON: They don't want to come work at a place like this that's so seasonal is one of the big factors. Aside from the hard work. It's just, you know, outdoors. It's just not the kind of work that it seems like our younger generations want to be doing.

ZAKARIA: Gordon says he paid $1,500 for help wanted ads in a newspaper to fill 70 positions for the 2011 season. The starting wage was $8.68 per hour. He says seven people applied. Three showed up for an interview. And just one actual showed up for work.

GORDON: It's just crazy. Everybody thinks that we're trying to get cheap labor and that we should be hiring Americans. I wish I could hire Americans.

ZAKARIA: So Gordon needs a way to legally hire illegals.

On the other side of the, well, fence, people like this woman, let's call her Mia. She crossed the border in Nogales, Arizona. She's been in the country illegally for over a decade. Just like 90 percent of the estimated 65,000 undocumented immigrants in Kansas.

MIA: Every day, we don't know what could happen. But we just try to do the best.

ZAKARIA: Mia says 65 members of her family are in the United States illegally. The bill deals with people like her who have roots here, who have spent years living and working in Kansas, but at this point the bill itself is unlikely to take root in Kansas. Especially if another powerful Kansas Republican has his way.

KRIS KOBACH, KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: The bill that they've introduced has no hope of passing in the Kansas legislature. I think it was more there for symbolic reasons to plant a flag than to actually become law.

ZAKARIA: Kris Kobach is the Kansas secretary of state, and he also happens to be a co-architect of Arizona's staunch immigration law. Kobach, an immigration law professor, thinks this bill is just a nice wrapping on amnesty for people who've come here illegally.

KOBACH: The employer gets the benefit by exploiting the illegal aliens. But we, the taxpayers, are left holding the bill because we're paying all those costs.

ZAKARIA (on camera): But what about whole industries like in California, agriculture and parts of the southwest, construction that do rely on these workers and that don't find it easy to replace them. It hasn't been easy to find American citizens who are willing to pick fruit in 110-degree weather.

KOBACH: Well, replace them at what cost? The employers will never say, well, we tried raising wages by $5 an hour and then we found Americans. They don't do that. If you raise the wages --


ZAKARIA: Wouldn't that -- wouldn't that make those businesses uncompetitive?

KOBACH: No, not if --


KOBACH: Not if all businesses are -- in that industry are facing an equal increase in the cost of labor.

ZAKARIA: The real competition is from abroad.

KOBACH: Not so much, I think, in agriculture. ZAKARIA: Sure it is.

KOBACH: It's less of a -- less of a factor.

BLOOMBERG: It's fair to say that Americans would do virtually any job. You'll always find somebody. Unfortunately, the customers who are going to pay for those workers aren't going to pay those prices. So it's a ridiculous argument to make. You cannot pay somebody to pick peaches so much that the peaches cost $10 apiece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Legal Americans, legal immigrants --

ZAKARIA: According to Mayor Bloomberg, laws like the harsh Arizona immigration law are a reaction to the lack of intelligent legislation from Washington.

BLOOMBERG: I'm not sympathetic to somebody that's broken the law. On the other hand, the practical reality is, whatever the number is, 11 million, we're not going to deport them. So we have to find some ways to turn them into more productive members of society. Now, you can say, but they broke the law. They did. But we were all complicit in that.

ZAKARIA: It's time to stop doling out the blame, Bloomberg adds, and to start focusing on fixing our broken immigration system.

BLOOMBERG: You know, Winston Churchill, I think, once said, you can always rely on America to do the right thing after all of the possibilities are exhausted. In the end, Congress will do the right thing, but only after they've tried every other crazy idea that obfuscate or kicks the can down the road.


ZAKARIA: When we come back, my thoughts on the immigration debate. Stay with us.


ZAKARIA: Take a look at this picture. It's meant to be a floating Silicon Valley, sort of. In the words of its CEO, it is a boat for entrepreneurs from around the world who want to start companies in Silicon Valley but are currently unable to do so because of our antiquated visa system. Even though it will be just half an hour from Half Moon Bay, California, which is half an hour from Silicon Valley, Blue Seed, the name of the project and the boat, will be in international waters, and so you wouldn't need an American visa to work on it.

Who knows if this will ever come to fruition. But what it does demonstrate is how frustrated American entrepreneurs are with our immigration system.

The U.S. is projected to have 2.8 million job openings in science, engineering and math-related fields by 2018. Nearly 800,000 of them will require a masters degree or higher. But only 550,000 American- born graduates will have the training to fill those jobs. Now, we can't even talk about our legal immigration system because any reform has been held up by those who first insist we must solve the illegal immigration problem.

But a funny thing has happened on the way to the immigration crisis. Immigrants have stopped coming here. Well, that's an exaggeration. But the Pew Hispanic Center recently issued a report stating the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed. In other words, more people may be going back to Mexico than are coming to the U.S. So for all the money we spend on fences and drones at the border, we may be fighting the last war.

The one we need to tackle is the skills war with the rest of the world. And it's one we're losing. A large part of the problem is that we have an immigration system that is broken. It does too many of the wrong things and not enough of the right ones.

And the rest of the world is catching up. Canada and Australia now have smart immigration policies that take in talented foreigners who have the skills the countries need and the determination and drive to succeed. As a result, they've transformed themselves into immigrant societies with a foreign-born population that is higher than the United States.

Australia, which only 15 years ago had strong strains of nativism and xenophobia dominating its political culture now has over a quarter of its population foreign born. Double America's share. And it is thriving because of the economic growth and cultural diversity this brings.

Canada's foreign-born population is almost 20 percent. Ours is 13 percent, just a little higher than Great Britain's. We are not the world's only nor even the largest immigrant society anymore.

So what to do?

Well, most experts would agree with the following approach. We should craft legislation that deals once and for all with the problem of existing illegal immigrants, deporting those with any criminal record and giving legal papers to the others.

Their path to citizenship, however, should be long. Behind all regular applicants, probably a process that would take 15 years during which they would have to pay taxes and stay crime free.

Then we would reduce the number, currently 75 percent of all immigrants, who come in because they have been sponsored by a legal immigrant. We would increase the number of immigrants with skills we need.

We would also make some orderly provision for temporary workers who pick crops or food in California during the harvesting season, but then should go back to Mexico or Central America when the season is over. Ideally such a bill would be bipartisan, sponsored by a prominent Republican and Democrat, and, of course, it would need presidential support to get it off the ground. Now here's the tragedy. We had such a bill. It was sponsored by John McCain and Ted Kennedy. It was strongly supported by President George W. Bush. And it couldn't even come to a vote. The far right hated the provisions that provided a legal path for the undocumented workers. The left opposed the shift to skills-based immigration. And the unions opposed the temporary worker provisions.

That fact that the extremes hated it would have been evidence that it was broad and bipartisan, and in an earlier time, that would have helped it pass. Today, power has shifted to the wings of the party and the lead sponsor of the bill -- John McCain -- now denounces his own handy work.

The failure of immigration reform is a metaphor for the breakdown of the political process. We have to compromise. But that isn't going to happen any time soon.

It's sad because America remains the place that the world looks to as the global melting pot. The place where a universal nation is being created. We may not do immigration that well anymore, but we do assimilation better than anyone.

People from all over the world come to this country and almost magically become Americans. They -- I should say we -- come to this country with drive and determination, and we develop over time a fierce love for America. And this infusion of talent, diversity, hard work and patriotism is what has kept America vital for these last two centuries. If we can renew it, it will keep America vital for the next century as well.

Thanks for tuning in to this GPS special. You can read more of my thoughts in "TIME" magazine. You can always catch my regular show on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Eastern. International viewers can go to our Web site for airtimes.

Thank you.