Our country is a less likely destination for workers than for family members of current residents.
The United States has a big, famous statue of a lady holding a torch—maybe you've heard of it or seen pictures—and engraved there is a pretty decent poem inviting the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" to come on over.
But how does that invitation play out in practice? At NPR, Lam Thuy Vo put together a graphic that illustrates who's actually immigrating to the United States. Apparently, our priority is to bring in family members of current residents, as opposed to skilled workers.
The data used measure in particular those immigrants who are allowed to come to stay permanently, and a second graph (click through for it) shows that our country has a lower percentage of immigrant workers than Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Russia, Spain, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Korea.
Bringing families together is great, but the value that the United States gets from patents from immigrants and the value the United States could get from successful immigrant-fueled startups is nothing to sneeze at. But we don't exactly make it easy for skilled workers to get here.