Skilled Immigration Policy Changes Needed
May 26, 2010
STEM Immigrants should just be given citizenship!
Ours is an immigrant nation
If any argument is to be made, this one is it. If you are a US citizen, unless you are Native American, you are the descendant of immigrants. Why should you be allowed to tell other people from around the world seeking the American Dream that they can’t have it? I find this especially true for those skilled workers that attended a university in the US. Why make the barriers for citizenship so difficult that they might leave and go home? In many cases, we have supported their education with tax dollars for scholarships and running state schools, so it is reasonable to want them to remain employed in the US. Aside from the potential to create companies and new jobs, at the very least they will contribute taxes for the general welfare of the country. On graduation day, they should go into a special program where they must work and pay taxes for some certain period of time and then they are granted citizenship. End of story. Forget the H-1B visa and the separate application for citizenship. We want more STEM workers (Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering) in this country. We NEED more STEM workers in this country. If you want to contribute by convincing your kids to work hard and get into those fields, that is great. But don’t try to chase off the people we are already training.
The skilled job market is not a zero sum game
In fact, I believe that the availability of STEM workers yields an exponential benefit for our country, at least compared to our current state. But I will get to that in a moment. Suppose I am hiring a new engineering position and, naturally, I need the most talented worker or my likelihood of success will drop. The addition of more STEM workers to the employment pool increases my chances of finding the right fit for my new position. However, if the best person for my company happens to be an H-1B visa holder, you might think that a US citizen just lost out on a job. However, if I hadn’t found the right person, I might have withdrawn the job altogether or tried to hire in a country where the availability of my required skillset is higher. More importantly, that displaced US worker, being a STEM degree holder, is still likely to find gainful employment. For instance, having an engineering degree qualifies you to displace all kinds of other workers if you can’t find your desired engineering work. In either case, the presence of more STEM workers, either through H-1B’s or open immigration, benefits the STEM community.
More importantly, educated STEM workers are adept at solving problems. Many go on to specialize in other areas by obtaining MBA’s and working at upper and executive levels in companies. Our country needs more people capable of applying problem solving methodologies to abstract issues. We have problems major problems in US government, public policy, public debt leveraging, not to mention the long line of problems that the business marketplace needs solved. More STEM citizens means more people are available to tackle the difficult issues facing our nation in the coming decades. We are going to have to make tough and rational decisions to dig our country out of the deep holes we find seem to find around every corner. Who is better to face these challenges than the members of STEM communities? Having a larger and more engaged STEM community will surely help us find the right solutions to our current and future problems.
Keeping immigrants out won’t make you smarter
This is a reality that many people don’t seem to understand, so I will say it again. If you aren’t smart enough, educated enough, or skilled enough to get a job where skilled H-1B visa workers or naturalized citizens are currently employed, keeping them out will not make you any more qualified for that job. Period. In fact, it is not likely that anything will happen except that job will disappear or will go unfilled. So why allow this debate to be lumped in with general immigration policy or to be argued by people outside of the STEM and economics communities? Furthermore, if an individual is so concerned about losing their job to an immigrant STEM worker, or any worker for that matter, they need to look at themselves in the mirror. Seek to improve yourself before you seek to remove your competition.
H-1B workers can be used to artificially lower wages
This is the biggest crock of hogwash I have ever heard. First of all, a company that employs this sort of strategy is probably more than a little desperate. And even if they can make it work, so what? Assume the company can’t do this because we get rid of the H-1B visa. Those jobs are going overseas quickly. Which is better for the US economy? The government takes 20% of an artificially lowered wage, or 20% of nothing because the jobs aren’t in the US anymore. You pick.
More to the point, if we allow those H-1B workers to have citizenship instead, how long do you think they will tolerate a lower than market wage before they leave for another job? It is a fact that STEM workers can find the same jobs at different companies in the same market that pay very different wages. The companies that pay their employees less do so by accepting the downsides that come with doing so. The best way to solve all of the associated problems problems is to just get rid of the H-1B altogether. If STEM workers want to work here and want to be citizens, just let them. It benefits the economy at large anyways and it is a part of the DNA in this country, and we should not forget that.