The Immigration Drain

Immigration and workforce researcher Vivek Wadhwa at Yahoo!News writes about skilled immigrants who are getting bored with the U.S.A--and how hard it can be to legally work here. Some highlights:

At the end of 2006, more than 1 million skilled professionals (engineers, scientists, doctors, researchers) and their families were in line for a yearly allotment of only 120,000 permanent resident visas. The wait time for some people ran longer than a decade. In the meantime, these workers were trapped in "immigration limbo." If they changed jobs or even took a promotion, they risked being pushed to the back of the permanent residency queue. We predicted that skilled foreign workers would increasingly get fed up and return to countries like India and China where the economies were booming.

Why should we care? Because immigrants are critical to the country's long-term economic health. Despite the fact that they constitute only 12% of the U.S. population, immigrants have started 52% of Silicon Valley's technology companies and contributed to more than 25% of our global patents. They make up 24% of the U.S. science and engineering workforce holding bachelor's degrees and 47% of science and engineering workers who have PhDs. Immigrants have co-founded firms such as Google, Intel, eBay, and Yahoo!.....

But human resources directors in India and China told us that what was a trickle of returnees a decade ago had become a flood. Job applications from the U.S. had increased tenfold over the last few years, they said.

While many of the factors Wadhwa and his fellow researchers found at play in the decision of many of these talented young people to abandon America are more personal than bureaucratic--see the full study--America certainly needs to do everything it can, if future economic dynamism and growth, and simple human decency, are important to us--to make things easier, rather than harder, for the foreign-born to live and work here. That means, increase that allotment for permanent resident visas, now--or eliminate quotas entirely.

The Reason Foundation's Shikha Dalmia with more on why such visa caps should be scrapped.

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  • SIV||

    I am all for open immigration of the skilled, educated and/or moneyed. That always seemed like a more important first step of "immmigration reform" than flooding the country with cheap, subsidized unskilled labor while tightly restricting the former.Our de facto immigration policy seemes exactly backwards.The proposed "comprehensive reform" would have only exacerbated the problem.

  • ||

    The current elite class in America seem to prefer an inflow of uneducated Third World laborers to skilled and educated immigrants. Why is this?

  • Kunal||

    Immigration and workforce researcher Vivek Wadhwa at Yahoo!News writes about skilled immigrants who are getting bored with the U.S.A--and how hard it can be to legally work here.

    Yeah, but VivekWadhwa is clearly a SneakyIndian. Why should we trust anything that comes out of his IdolWorsiping mouth?

    Bernie Sanders had the right idea. Throw these furreners out. Kinder statt Inder!

  • shecky||

    cheap, subsidized unskilled labor

    Subsidized?

    The only thing that "floods" the country with unskilled immigrants is the invisible hand.

    Unskilled labor is an inherently low end market. Thus a strong market. Claiming the "current elite class in America" is behind this attributes conspiratorial motives when simple supply and demand explains the situation better.

    In the end, the immigration system is fucked up for both skilled AND unskilled immigrants. It's the same old song. Government policies are not good at determining markets. In this case, labor markets. So policies that establish hard quotas, regardless the motivation (carrot or stick), are broken from conception.

  • ||

    I worked in the USA for seven years and tried to get permanent residency. My efforts failed (my job ended before my labor certification came through) and I had to return to Britain. Even thought I love the UK, I consider America my true home, and it really pains me that I can't live there.

    Just take it from me that your system is insanely screwed up and is totally Kafka-esque. I could have stayed illegally, like 2 of my friends, but I have always chosen to follow your rules -- and look where I am.

    I'm still rooting for the USA and hopefully one day I'l get to come back.

  • Paul||

    So that's LoneWacko's plan. Frustrate them into leaving.

  • ||

    Well, apparently it's important to bar foreigners from working for our troubled financial institutions, too, according to the new Congress.

  • DJF||

    "Shecky says

    Subsidized?

    The only thing that "floods" the country with unskilled immigrants is the invisible hand."

    You must not have visited a hospital emergency room lately where lots of illegal's are getting free medical care. Nor seen the school system where they get free education. Nor seen all the free and subsidized housing they get. So there is more then just the invisible hand working here. And don't say that they pay taxes, poor people don't pay much in taxes

  • ||

    Yeah, but VivekWadhwa is clearly a SneakyIndian. Why should we trust anything that comes out of his IdolWorsiping mouth?

    "Kunal"...that sounds Mexican. Or Canadian. Get him!

  • SIV||

    The only thing that "floods" the country with unskilled immigrants is the invisible hand.

    To the extent the huge mal-investment fueled by cheap monetary policy was the invisible hand yes.

    The subsidies didn't flood the country with immigrant workers, just their family members.

  • ||

    You must not have visited a hospital emergency room lately where lots of illegal's are getting free medical care. Nor seen the school system where they get free education.

    If these subsidies were to disappear tomorrow, there would be barely a dent in the pattern of low-skilled immigration. People come and go because of work, not to partake in the bounteous cornucopia of welfare immigrants are not eligible for, nor the scraps they are eligible for.

    On the other hand, if the border were actually open to people coming and going at will, then low skilled workers would be more likely to leave their emergency-room using, school-attending families back in their home countries where living is cheaper while they worked for a few seasons or a few years and then returned for good.

    Nor seen all the free and subsidized housing they get.

    Actually, I haven't.

  • SIV||

    The invisible hand is doing a much better job of "rounding 'em all up and deporting them" than ICE ever did.

  • ||

    Abd everyone wonders why companies outsource their jobs overseas. Because that's where the labor force they need lives. If they could live here in sufficient numbers, maybe less companies would justify leaving the country.

  • DJF||

    ""Nor seen all the free and subsidized housing they get.

    MikeP says "Actually, I haven't."

    Maybe you need to visit the right places. There are lots of government subsidized programs which build homes for farm workers in the US, here is just one of many. They don't check on who is legaly here

    "Sonrise Villas Fellsmere, FL Member: First Union Direct Bank, N.A. Sponsor: Hope Properties, Inc. Subsidy: $500,000 for 160 units AHP funds will be used to construct 160 rental units for very low-income families in Fellsmere, Florida. Forty percent of the units will be set- aside for farm workers' families."

  • ||

    The current elite class in America seem to prefer an inflow of uneducated Third World laborers to skilled and educated immigrants. Why is this?

    Depending on what you mean by "elite class", there are at least two possible answers:

    a. Raw protectionism. The "elite class" don't compete for jobs or status with low skilled labor.

    b. The appearance of preference is misleading. The "elite class" discourage both. However, skilled and educated prospective immigrants have choices in their home country or other countries that are superior to being illegal residents in the US, and employers of the skilled and educated are more likely to toe the legal line and not employ illegal residents. Thus what appears to be the elite class looking the other way with regard to low skilled immigration is the simple fact that it is harder to enforce anti-free-market laws against low skilled immigrants and their employers than against high skilled immigrants and their employers.

  • ||

    toe the legal line

    I believe what you meant to say was, "tow the legal lion." Your welcome.

  • ||

    There are lots of government subsidized programs which build homes for farm workers in the US, here is just one of many.

    Well, thank you for the pointer to a dull lesson on the Federal Home Loan Banks.

    But let me say that, as a subsidy, an interbank lending company chartered during the New Deal to help coordinate community loans and receiving zero taxpayer funding is pretty weak tea.

    I suppose the same argument could be used to say that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also subsidies to illegal immigrants because they are there to buy loans that might have been made to illegal residents.

    Let's just say that I strongly doubt that immigrants come to the US to take advantage of its government-backed mortgage policies.

  • ||

    Yep, it's the immigrants fault that the government subsidizes them. Oh, they are crafty, those illegals.

  • Jozef||

    My last temporary work visa expired in May 2010. My company determined that it would be cheaper to pay for my relocation to our offices in Ireland than to sponsor me for a permanent work visa. I personally don't mind; I'm already spending 2 months each year in Dublin, when I work on software that would be subject to export regulations if developed in the US. The people who'd really mind me leaving will be my neighbors, who'll face higher local taxes once more well-paid (and thus well-taxed and well-spending) foreigners leave the area, lowering the local tax revenues.

  • Jozef||

    * expires

  • jtuf||

    Don't worry guys, with our stellar education system we can ... Oh no, wait. We're screwed.

    Seriously though. It's time to tripple immigration quotas accross the board.

  • ||

    Josef,

    Is your company willing to send an American over to Dublin? My bags are packed.

  • toto||

    Is your company willing to send an American over to Dublin? My bags are packed.

    Don't worry. You'll have lots of opportunities in the future.

  • shecky||

    The invisible hand is doing a much better job of "rounding 'em all up and deporting them" than ICE ever did.

    You're starting to realize how this works, nativist bias aside. An outflow of immigrants because of fewer job opportunities, however, is nothing to really be happy about.

    The point has been made a thousand times, but this is the market working. Why insist that the government should or could control markets for labor, any more than goods?

  • Mad Max||

    My humbly-offered suggestion is this:

    Immigrants could get to the head of the queue, get only cursory inspection by ICE, and be exempt from caps if a family member or nonprofit group in the US would post bond on the immigrant's good behavior. If the immigrant commits a crime or becomes a public charge within a set time (say five or ten years), then the bond is forfeit, otherwise it's refunded (changed from secured to unsecured). (There would have to be safeguards to make sure that sweatshop bosses don't lend money for these sponsorships in order to promote debt peonage.) If the immgigrant can afford to post bond on his own behalf, he should be required to do so.

    In this way, instead of trusting overworked bureaucrats (competent or not) to make predictions about an immigrant's future behavior, we have a realistic system of incentives in place. The immigrant and/or his family will have an incentive to stay on the straight and narrow, if he or his family put up the bond. For immigrants who can't afford the bond, one of the numerous nonprofits who advocates for immigrants will be able to take the risk, and this will give these nonprofits an incentive to do some screening, which would probably be more effective than the screening of some federal clerk.

    By this system, if the immigrant, family or sponsoring group is willing to put his or its money where his or its mouth is, and bet money on the proposition of the immigrant becoming a productive member of the community, then the red tape can be cut and the immigrant could immediately start living and working here, without waiting several years while their application is being processed through the bowels of the bureaucracy.

  • SIV||

    An outflow of immigrants because of fewer job opportunities, however, is nothing to really be happy about.

    The mal-investment in labor resources spurred by loose monetary policy and government policy was something to be happy about? I've always been in favor of open immigration while vehemently opposed to the "comprehensive immigration reform" policy that was popular 'round these parts.

  • Orange Line Special||

    "SIV" doesn't understand that allowing so-called SkilledImmigrants would lead to lower wages for sectors such as ComputerProgrammers.

  • Orange Line Special||

    "SIV" may be getting funding from CorporateHacks, but if he isn't I suggest that he clicks here for a ShockingExpose.

  • Kunal||

    Oh noes! Its the blue hordes!

  • Ramsey||

    Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko

    Hope I got that right...

  • U.S. engineer||

    I am AllFor the ExodusOfForeignEngineers as it ReducesCompetitionForJobs and ArtificiallyBoosts MyPay.

  • ||

    I am AllFor the ExodusOfForeignEngineers as it ReducesCompetitionForJobs and ArtificiallyBoosts MyPay.

    And eventually will lead to the closing of US operations in tech and engineering industries so your entire breadth of job prospects is now in Bangalore. Well done. Enjoy the curry.

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