The debate over controlling illegal immigration has pulsed throughout election cycles for decades. But recently, a more radical strain of anti-immigrant thought, which advocates lower legal immigration levels, is gaining some momentum.
In the past few months, new advertisements which promote a decrease in legal immigration rates have found their way to the airways of Fox News, a channel founded by legal immigrant Rupert Murdoch.
The ads are sponsored by advocacy groups like NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), who argue that even legal immigrants pose a threat to American jobs and America's stability.
The controversial ads seem at odds with a new study released by the National Foundation for American Policy in December which found that nearly half of the top 50 venture-backed firms in the country had foreign-born founders, and that more than 75 percent of such companies had foreign-born professionals as part of their "key management personnel."
The movement to lower legal immigration also counters the platforms of many of the Republican frontrunners in the Presidential debate, like Mitt Romney, who described himself in a September debate as a "great proponent of legal immigration."
"Many of you are living proof of the unique strength of America that is constantly renewed by new Americans," he said to his audience. "The promise of America has brought some of the world's best and brightest to our shores," he added.
In the advertisement by CAPS, the spokesperson says that legal immigrants "take good jobs in places like California," while many Californians are out of work. And FAIR argues that legal immigration has reached an all time high, posing a threat to American prosperity.
But, many of the top entrepreneurs in the country argue just the opposite. In 2008, Bill Gates testified before Congress in support of increasing the number of H-1B visas allotted for high-skilled workers, and elongating F-1 visas for foreign-born students, arguing that such immigrants are assets to the American economy and are actually great job creators.
Gates said in his speech before of Congress:
U.S. innovation has always been based, in part, on the contributions of foreign-born scientists and researchers. For example, a recent survey conducted by several universities showed that between 1995 and 2005, firms with at least one foreign-born founder created 450,000 new U.S. jobs. Moreover, as a recent study shows for every H-1B holder that technology companies hire, five additional jobs are created around that person."
Last week, Reuter's Felix Salmon wrote that the denial rate of visas for high-skilled immigrants had risen in recent years, even when immigration rates from some countries had not, as was the case with India.
Other notable businessmen and politicians, including Mayor Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch, testified in front of Congress in 2010, advocating an overhaul of the immigration system and an increase in visas given for skilled foreign-born immigrants.
Murdoch, the founder of Fox News, said in his testimony that, "As an immigrant, I chose to live in America because it is one of the freest and most vibrant nations in the world."
"And as an immigrant, I feel an obligation to speak up for immigration policies that will keep America the most economically robust, creative and freedom-loving nation in the world," he said.
WATCH: An advertisement paid for by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)