Tech companies have long bemoaned the cap on H1-B visas for foreign employees. This week Cleveland talked with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about a bill Schumer's introducing with Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., that would award green cards automatically to immigrants who receive a master's degree or Ph.D. in science, technology, engineering, or math from a U.S. university. "These caps for H1-B visas and...green cards have been frozen in time for two decades," says Cleveland.
A change in policy could take a while though: it has to be included in comprehensive immigration reform, which includes perennially thorny issues like border security and undocumented workers.[The Lobby: Intel's R&D tax pushâ€? Reuters, Mar 26, 2010, by Jia Lynn Yang]
Chuck Schumer's education background:
Alma mater Harvard College (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Peter Cleveland's Educational background:
Cleveland received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1997 and an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1987
Lindsey Graham's educational background:
Graham graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Psychology in 1977 and from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a J.D. in 1981
This idea has most recently be justified by statements like this:
Tech leaders have long championed the idea of using H-1B visas as way to bring the best and brightest to work permanently in the United States. Former Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has repeatedly told Congress, "It's doesn't make sense to keep the smart people out."
Here's the thing: each year the US gets over 10 Million applications for immigration to the US—and only about 1 Million are accepted. If the goal was simply to emulate eugenics advocate Francis Galton's advice to select "really smart" immigrants, that might be done by just giving an IQ test to potential immigrants—and taking the smartest 5-10%.
The entire workforce of the US could theoretically be replaced by workers from India and China, by about 9% of present labor costs. Why do some people specifically gravitate towards policies that would expose particular groups of Americans to a reduction of wages by 91%?
If Gates, Graham and Schumer were really sincere, they could easily expand the bill to also include granting green cards to people who earn an MBA or Law degree from a US university. What their current strategy does is increase the current gap in earnings for US citizens between those who choose to enter law or finance and those who enter technical occupations-particularly for the most talented Americans.
I think what this says is that government by the lawyers, of the lawyers and for the lawyers is an utter failure in the US—and we need to consider other options.