Being in congruence is something I admire in people, and one of the major (many) things I can’t stand when I am not in that state. What I mean is, if you have certain beliefs, then follow through your whole being and in all areas with that belief. Don’t say one thing and do another – say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you will (or at least try!).
Today I am particularly disturbed about the immigration debate. I am very tired of having friends of mine, not able to get work visas because of our nation’s restrictive immigration rules. And I mean particularly, the low limit (about 60,000) of H1B visas available for highly skilled foreign workers. I don’t mean instant citizenship – I certainly fall into the camp of believing you must do your time to earn US citizenship. Even the country I cite most often on how they handle foreign workers, Singapore, has an open foreign worker program (if you have skills) but a long citizenship process. But our system in the USA is simply asinine.
Furthermore, the average American thinks that 7th generation Americans create all of these new companies and new jobs (being sarcastic – excuse me). Many have no idea how many immigrants have started some of our best companies (I will explain why I think the average American is ignorant in a minute). let’s look at a few: Pierre Omiydar, founder of Ebay, who recently donated $100 million to Tufts University and whose company employs over 15,000 people, was born in Iran of all places and raised in France (isn’t that a two-fer! Iran AND FRANCE – two countries that aren’t exactly the apple of the US’s eye); Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, which employs over 14,000 people was born in Taiwan; Andrew Carnegie, whose company, US Steel, currently employs 49,000 people, was born in Scotland, and like Yang, came to the US with his parents.
Here you have almost 100,000 American jobs created by 3 immigrants – HELLO! Let me tell you something, Punjab the PhD from India is not stealing a job from Billy the union guy in Ohio – can we all agree on that? So what is this deal with immigration? Why is everyone afraid of immigrants? Oh and on a side note, as I said, I don’t want to freely give citizenship out – so why do we want to fast-track 10M Mexicans, many with limited English skills, and who wave Mexican flags at rallies, but not allow in highly ambitious, highly skilled foreigners with good English skills (political reasons not logical ones?)? I mean the kind of people who might start an Ebay-type of company? And the point of this post is not to deride the Mexicans who hope for citizenship – I’m all for giving them work visas, along with anyone else (Punjab included) who wants to come here and work. This way I am assured that they aren’t here for the handouts. The point is to put a spotlight on this ridiculous immigration policy we have.
And what is the result of this policy? Think of it this way – in the past, the very ambitious and skilled immigrants came to our country, got further educated here, either from a skilled American or in one of our fine graduate school programs. They then either worked productively for a company involved in high-skilled work, or they started a company. Some even brought their high level of skill home to a country that desperately needed more skilled people. The ones who got skilled jobs, increased US tax revenue. The ones who started companies created US jobs and even more tax revenue!
Now many of these immigrants, turned away by our foolish rules, will choose other countries which are more competitive or at least equally competitive. For example, London offers high tech workers office space and tax breaks to locate in London – which is smart; Singapore offers low income tax rates and no capital gains taxes – also smart; China has created 4 special economic zones to promote growth – smart too. Moron American politicians want to raise taxes and scare entrepreneurs out of the country – DUMB. Do you understand my point? In the past, we were the best option for immigrants – we offered a safe environment, ease of starting businesses and incorporating, protection of patents and copyrights on original material and a legal system that would protect innovation – now as the world develops and people feel safe in other countries as the legal systems in other countries improve, our allure drops, and with bonehead business policies (tax increases to fund fat congressmen’s dinners at high end steakhouses, or increasing hoops to jump through to start businesses as two examples), it drops further.
And why does the average American not know the truth about immigration – that “Punjab” will not be stealing “Billy’s job (not to mention that growth is good – but we don’t teach economics OR history well enough in our schools so i don’t expect the average person or even the average politican to get this. economics isn’t covered in law school)? Why is it in the average American’s mind that an Indian PhD candidate is going to steal a job from Americans? Want to know why? I will tell you why – it’s loud-mouthed politicians whose thought process on this subject rivals that of a poodle. For example, here is a quick article outlining Senator Bernard Sanders’ visit on the Lou Dobbs show and the current immigration debate: Article.
Dobbs is apparently conservative to the point of protectionist (a true conservative is not protectionist however) and Sanders is a socialist. These two grasp the problem like a 2 year old grasps physics (my cheesy similes end here). Dobbs leads the interview by saying “corporate America’ was responsible for the push for more immigration and Sanders eagerly agreed. These guys don’t get it. Sanders represents a state of mostly white, hippie farmers (I know this isn’t completely true). I wonder if he has ever visited another country.
Sanders is the type of guy who, I bet, fought for workers’ rights in other countries, but I don’t think he feels as warmly about those same foreigners living next door to him, though I’m sure they’re not fighting to come to Vermont (most of them don’t ski).
Bottom line: the people whom we want immigrating to this country, the skilled, the ambitious, those already studying in our universities, should be allowed to stay here and FIND work – not have to be sponsored, before we lose this talent to other countries. Instead, we are on course to lose these talented job creators to other countries to our permanent detriment – like GM automobiles, once you lose your luster, you never can fully get it back. Some ‘Toyota’ will come along and steal your crown and you will never return to form – that is the US fate if we don’t change our tune.
A Summary of Immigration in America with links from the Economist
Here is an interesting article from the LA Times on the Republicans apparent incongruence on immigration: LA Times
Here is an interesting blog detailing one person’s frustration with the H1B Visa and Green Card System: Skilled Immigrants
Interesting Immigration Attorney with a content-filled site on immigration updates: Oh Law Firm
Interesting resource for H1B Visas: H1Base
INS site for Visas: USCIS