The New York Times reported this week on a fascinating scientific study. Researchers have discovered the possibility that bad memories can be deleted from our minds. The prospect of applying this finding to the world of immigration is even more intriguing.

Imagine if immigration opponents like Norman Matloff, Ron Hira and John Miano could stop blathering about employment-based immigration merely by deleting the falsehoods they spout:

  • Matloff: “Underpayment of H-1Bs is usually in full compliance with the law, with employers exploiting loopholes;”
  • Hira: “Loopholes enable employers to hire H-1B workers at below-market wages;”
  • Miano: “The United States has a very generous immigration policy for skilled workers. America’s doors are wide open to the best minds in the world — both for permanent residency and for guest workers. For high-skilled workers with distinguished ability, the U.S. has “O” temporary guest worker visas, for which there is no numerical limit. The situation is the same for people seeking green cards.”

As for so-called H-1B loopholes, Matloff and Hira know not of which they speak. The dozens of pages of H-1B regulations published by the Labor Department require that H-1B workers be paid the “required” wage – a term defined as the higher of the prevailing wage in the geographic area where the work is performed or the actual wage paid to similarly qualified workers in the same job at the employer’s worksite. In most cases, employers merely use the prevailing wage for the particular job that the Labor Department provides. Clearly, the Matloof/Hira loophole argument is sufficiently loopy to be worthy of deletion from memory.

Miano’s claim is equally forgettable. No process wrapped in the thick red tape of ever-changing immigration rules, policy memoes and press releases that takes years to untangle can honestly be called “generous” and “wide open” — unless an uncovered manhole can be termed “wide open” and “generous” in that it offers a free ride to the sewer. Miano also shows signs of amnesia when he describes the “O” visa as requiring “distinguished ability” — a term that formerly qualified a professional worker for an H-1B visa — when the “O” actually requires the much more demanding standard of “extraordinary ability.”

But immigration memory-deletion should not be taken to extremes. We want the Members of Congress to remember the politicians who lost their seats in the last election by opposing comprehensive immigration reform. This recollection should be etched forever in our legislators’ consciousness as President Obama embarks on the fulfillment of his campaign promise to address our dysfunctional immigration system in his first year in office.