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.