I worked with a woman with a Ph.D in acoustics from the University of Leningrad. She emigrated with her husband (an electrical engineering lecturer from said-same) and son in '88. By the time I met her, she'd found the acoustics firm we both worked at and was being paid. But she'd had to work for free for more than a year before they gave her any kind of salary.
I started there with a degree not-quite a year old, and not in acoustics. About three years after I got there I got cc'd on the wrong email. Found out I made more than her. Like, 25-30% more.
I brought it up to her at one point - I was flabbergasted and it was completely unfair. She already knew. She just assumed. She shrugged it off and puffed on a Virginia Slim. She mentioned that nobody at the office respected her, never did, but at least it didn't say "Jew" on her driver's license anymore. She mentioned her husband had to drive a cab for six years before he finally was hired as an assembly technician at one of the local electronics firms. Lecturer. Electrical engineering. University of Leningrad. Their son? No prob. Magna cum Laude from MIT. It's just what it was. Russians are stoic.
I brought up a little later how stunningly competent she was to our boss a while later. He observed that whenever you see an immigrant in a position of technical expertise, they're at least twice as qualified as they need to be. And he fuckin' signed her (smaller than my) checks. If I hadn't already been actively interviewing for new jobs I woulda started.
The real problem is that anybody willing to become a refugee in order to find a better life is by definition more motivated than the people just trying to hang onto theirs... and these two groups of people can find themselves in opposition. One of the Republicans I follow came up with a solution: tax the shit out of immigrants 'cuz it'll keep the poor ones out. Then use the money to provide social services for Americans.
There's some truly appalling mental gymnastics there. Higher taxes lead to better social services... but don't do it with my money because I'm an American.