It is often said that the problem with immigrants is that they're poor and contribute only their cheap labor when they get here.
But rarely discussed is the fact that the United States does a terrible job of enabling the immigrants who already have post-secondary certifications, college degrees and professional work experience to continue their careers once they've arrived.
To start, a foreign-trained professional has to make his or her way to this country legally, navigating the red tape of visas and permissions, and, of course, master the English language. Then they must maneuver the thicket of proving their credentials and work experience.
If you've had to pull copies of your college transcripts in the last few years, you know it couldn't be easier. It's generally a short order on a website and a credit card payment, and you get PDFs within 48 hours.
But if you're an immigrant or a refugee who has arrived here from a war-torn country, one decimated by a natural disaster or from a place where the government bureaucracy is slow and impenetrable, you're in for an uphill battle. Not only to prove your credentials to professional certification boards, but also to show potential employers that you have documented experience.
And then it gets worse.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there is no single federal structure governing professional certification in regulated occupations. "A profusion of overlapping, sometimes contradictory, local, state or national rules, procedures and examinations makes it complicated, time-consuming and expensive for immigrants and refugees to become recertified in the United States," the institute said in a 2013 report. "The vast patchwork of organizations involved in the credential-recognition process — from professional associations and state or federal regulatory bodies to credential-assessment services and private- or public-sector employers — requires considerable effort to understand and work with."
Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/opinion/20160531/esther-j-cepeda-lets-not-squander-talents-of-our-immigrants