Quoted: on tech, immigration and ‘I-Squared’ bill

“This bill represents a reasonable approach to ensuring that we have a strong STEM funding mechanism and that we don’t turn away talented people just because they are born somewhere else.”

Ron Conway, SV Angel founder, on the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, which is being praised by the tech industry because it would  boost the number of H-1B visas for foreign workers and foreign students with advanced degrees from American universities. The “I-Squared” bill was introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and Chris Coons, D-Del. A similar bill in the House last fall, the STEM Jobs Act, was opposed by President Obama and other Democrats because it would have taken away a certain number of visas awarded in a diversity lottery, but this new bill would add new visas without doing so. Among other things, the bill would raise the annual cap of H-1B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 and increase permanent-residency visas for the highly skilled and educated. It would also raise H-1B visa fees and use those funds to help fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Tuesday, there was no shortage of reminders about immigrant entrepreneurs: Obama noted that Instagram, which is now owned by Facebook, was co-founded by Brazilian entrepreneur Michel Krieger, who studied in the United States and stayed after graduating, according to the Huffington Post . Google also reportedly pointed out that Google News and Google Maps were developed by foreign-born workers. (Krishna Barat and Lans and Jens Rasmussen, respectively.)

 

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  • JoeS

    By concentrating immigration so heavily in one industry, wages are pushed down and native-born talent discouraged from entering. The solution, it seems, is to concentrate immigration yet more heavily in tech.

  • RedRat

    It is a sad commentary on American young people who choose not to go into STEM careers. Some say it will push down wages, but the STEM sector has high wages by comparison to other field, yet young Americans, by the droves, still choose not to go into this field. I think we have a cadre of American young people who would rather sit on the couch and play video game, socially network on their computers and phones, but not try to build the next generation of technology. Just looking at current media, primarily TV, the careers that are extolled are rock bands, music, art, and other social endeavors. At the same time, STEM careers are downplayed and poked fun at. Too bad.

  • curmudgeon2000

    I don’t fault young people for not getting into STEM careers,
    especially IT/programming. If they’ve been paying attention to
    what has been happening to their parents, here’s some of what
    they’ve witnessed:

    – periodic layoffs due to business cycles, even during
    relatively good economic times, most notably in the chip
    industry.

    – the displacement of American workers and depression of wages
    due to the use of large numbers of H-1B visas

    – off-shoring of jobs to foreign workers in other countries

    – wide-spread age discrimination, which starts as young as forty

    So it’s really no surprise to me that intelligent, astute young
    people are reluctant to take up a technical career. They may
    well be better off long-term to enter the finance sector, or to
    become a lawyer, or even a plumber.

  • curmudgeon2000

    The increased use of H-1B visas is another example of how
    America’s corporate and government leaders have sold their
    people down the river.

    This is an issue that begs for some serious investigative
    work on the part of a newspaper like the Mercury News to
    expose how this policy is being abused to the detriment of
    American citizens, yet shamefully the paper has long
    echoed the industry’s line of bull excrement that there is
    a shortage of skilled workers. The only shortage is one of
    cheap workers. Not fully and honestly addressing this issue
    is a major failing on the part of the Mecury News, and serves
    to highlight that the paper largely just parrots industry
    press releases instead of practicing real journalism.

    People should remember that the visa numbers are cumulative;
    at a time when the unemployment rate is still almost 8%,
    there are approximately 700,000 H-1B workers in the U.S., and
    about twenty percent of all IT employees in America are
    foreigners holding H-1B visas.

    I could go on and on, but this issue has been written about
    extensively by Professor Norm Matloff at UC Davis for over
    ten years. I strongly urge everyone to read his five-minute
    summary of the H-1B situation, which can be found at:

    Professor Norm Matloff’s H-1B Web Page:
    http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/itaa.html

    For a more detailed discussion:

    http://www.cringely.com/2012/10/23/what-americans-dont-know-about-h-1b-visas-could-hurt-us-all/

  • Roca Welch

    I completely agree. While I’ve known many excellent people from other countries, the ones I still connect with came here, became US citizens and vote. Those that come here to make money so they can return “home” rich make us angry. You are right, corporate America wants cheap workers. That’s what these visas are for. Not because they can’t find the skills they are looking for. They just don’t want to pay for it. Further, many of these imported workers are terrified of losing the job so they never say no to their employer. That makes everyone else look unreasonable. For instance: No, I will not work 50 hours a week endlessly. No, I need a raise to match the cost of living. They become indentured servants because they can’t say no.

 
 
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