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Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump's Assault on Legal High-Skilled Immigration

He even wants to chase out foreign STEM students.

The U.S. high tech sector is the envy of the world in no small part due to the contributions of immigrant scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. Yet makingForeign StudentsAlexey Sukhorukov/ZUMA Press/Newscom their—and their employers'—lives miserable has become a top priority for the Trump administration.

Almost since day one, restrictionists in President Donald Trump's inner circle targeted not just undocumented low-skilled workers but also legal high-skilled ones. And the latest in their crosshairs may be international students—the very people who Mitt Romney, during his ill-fated presidential campaign, said should have green cards stapled to their diplomas, since it makes no sense for them to get an American education and then return to their home country to compete with America.

The White House's "Buy American and Hire American" executive order, drafted largely by restrictionist Trump aide Stephen Miller within months of Trump assuming office, ordered the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to "rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad" with an eye toward creating "higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States." And the agencies aren't wasting any time. They have been scouring and revising existing rules to make it as hard as possible for high-skilled immigrants to come—and stay—in the United States. Here are just a few of the things they've done:

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just last week instructed its adjudicators to no longer "defer to prior determinations," approvals and findings of facts for the renewal of H-1Bs and other high-skilled visas. This means that when high-tech foreigners try to extend their H-1B after three years, the government having previously approved their applications—involving the same set of facts—means nothing. For employers, it will create uncertainty and additional paperwork burden.
  • USCIS is also issuing 'exponentially more' of what are called "requests for evidence" when an employer first petitions for an H-1B visa, according to BNA Bloomberg. This means that employers must submit additional evidence regarding salaries and job duties so that the agency can ensure that H-1Bs are being handed only to the "most-skilled or highest-paid."
  • USCIS adjudicators are also far more suspicious of H-1B petitions where employers offer the lower end of the prevailing wage spectrum, for example when hiring fresh graduates with less job experience. They think that that's an indication that the individual's position isn't sufficiently complex to qualify for a visa.
  • The Trump administration is delaying whether to defend a regulation that allows certain spouses of H-1B visa holders to work. Tens of thousands of qualified spouses are currently locked out of the job market because their visas bar them from working.

But what's sending fear and trembling in the high-tech community is an expected rule change that will eliminate the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) program that the Bush administration first implemented. "Work inside the agency to rescind the STEM OPT regulation has already begun," according to Lynden Melmed, a partner at the immigration law firm Berry Appleman & Leiden. "Right now, it is not a question of whether the administration will walk that path. It is just a question of when."

This program allows about 45,000 new foreign STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students annually to work in the country after graduation not just one year, as is the case with non-STEM students, but three. This adds an important "practical" aspect to their education and gives them much-needed time to land jobs and stay in America via an H-1B. Otherwise, America would lose a wealth of talent to other countries.

But the Trump administration has had its sights on eliminating this program for a while. The only reason it might be dithering is that the case for doing so is extraordinarily weak.

For starters, unlike the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program that the Obama administration implemented without a federal regulation, STEM OPT was properly constituted. It was conceived under President Bush and extended by President Obama.

"In 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) legally expanded OPT to include an additional STEM extension, and the agency properly followed the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act to expand OPT for STEM students," Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell Law School explains. "A federal court dismissed a challenge to the DHS's STEM OPT extension rule, providing further assurance of its legality. Thus, the current administration cannot argue that the existing rule was promulgated illegally."

If the legal case for eliminating STEM OPT is dubious, the economic rationale is non-existent.

In the absence of STEM OPT, American companies that want to hang on to these students will hire them and place them outside the United States. "Without an H-1B program supported by the current STEM OPT option, Cummins and other employers will be forced to move our employees and their jobs outside the U.S.," said Lorrie Meyer, executive director for global talent management at Indiana-based manufacturer Cummins Inc. This would mean pushing both innovations -- and related jobs -- to other countries. That is the opposite, of course, of the goal of "America First."

But that's not the only economic downside of ending STEM OPT. If foreign students can't work in America after graduating, they'll be less likely to enroll in American universities in the first place. "Eliminating STEM OPT would have a chilling effect on international students, causing many to rethink applying to U.S. universities," Jackie Bangs, assistant director, Division of International Programs, Oregon State University notes.

According to the National Science Foundation, international students currently account for 81% of the full-time graduate students in electrical engineering and 79% in computer science at U.S. universities. My organization's research found that international students make up more than half of the full-time enrollment in about 90% of U.S. graduate level programs in computer science and electrical engineering. Many schools have fewer than 30 full-time U.S. graduate students in their science and engineering programs because many Americans have been eschewing these fields.

Without international students, therefore, there simply wouldn't be enough students to sustain a full range of graduate level STEM course offerings, which would shrink the choices for U.S. college students. There will be a net retrenchment in STEM in higher-ed, which will mean that America will graduate even fewer American STEM students than it currently does.

Fewer international STEM students will also make it harder to attract and sustain high-level faculty members who need them to assist in research. "At the graduate level, international students do not crowd-out, but actually increase domestic enrollment," according to research by economist Kevin Shih. "Foreign student tuition revenue is used to subsidize the cost of enrolling additional domestic students."

Besides the impact on universities, no credible economist thinks that kicking out Master's and Ph.D.'s in science and engineering fields is good for an economy. These students are easing a tight labor market, not displacing Americans, given that U.S. students in STEM fields earn far higher salaries than their peers, reports the recruiting site Glassdoor, and jobs are plentiful in computer fields, according to the Conference Board.

Furthermore, eliminating STEM OPT flies in the face of the administration's own claim that it wants to make America's immigration system more "merit-based." If high-skilled foreign nationals trained in STEM fields in America can't qualify for visas, then who can?

The administration's assault on high-skilled foreigners and international students is the clearest indication that its immigration agenda is not motivated by a concern for American jobs or the American economy. This won't Make America Great Again. It'll do the opposite, in fact.

Stuart Anderson heads the National Foundation for American Policy, a think tank that focuses on immigration and trade issues.

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  • ||

    "Trump's Assault on Legal High-Skilled Immigration"

    I was very disappointed to find out Trump did not actually assault anyone. The headline writer should take a penalty lap.

  • Longtobefree||

    The headline writer will probably take a victory lap. More clicks = more revenue.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    They sound more like as a,on or Vox every day.

  • DarrenM||

    I've seen some highly skilled immigrants I'd like to assault. They charged too much, though.

  • ||

    "Trump's Assault on Legal High-Skilled Immigration"

    Trump did not assault anyone. Is this newspeak or does the headline writer not know what assault is? I agree with the article, but the headline is garbage.

  • Brandybuck||

    Triggering headline is triggering. Maybe you should take an hour off and head over to the Puppies and Play-Doh room while we go protest the Reason offices.

  • Chipper Morning Truthjammer||

    Is this comment for real? Do you not know what garbage is? The headline is not household kitchen refuse. Get a dictionary, bud.

  • Hank Phillips||

    More like Peikoff's "Assault from the Ivory Tower," a literary thing...

  • ALWAYS RIGHT||

    America is already settled. Send these smart kids back to where they came from if they have brown eyes.

  • Mitsima||

    Nothing is settled! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win! But somebody wouldn't let us win! And I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting. Calling me baby killer and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me, huh? Who are they? Unless they've been me and been there and know what the hell they're yelling about!

  • Mitsima||

    Nothing is settled! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win! But somebody wouldn't let us win! And I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting. Calling me baby killer and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me, huh? Who are they? Unless they've been me and been there and know what the hell they're yelling about!

  • Mitsima||

    Nothing is settled! Nothing! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win! But somebody wouldn't let us win! And I come back to the world and I see all those maggots at the airport, protesting me, spitting. Calling me baby killer and all kinds of vile crap! Who are they to protest me, huh? Who are they? Unless they've been me and been there and know what the hell they're yelling about!

  • Brandybuck||

    You can say that again!

  • SOFL Hockey Fan||

    Never understood why Brian Dennehy's character went after Rambo in the first place. Guy in an army jacket walking along a highway doesn't seem very radical or threatening.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Didn't he have long hair and a bandana to go with that army jacket? Especially at that time, that made him look like a stoner, and Dennehy's Sheriff character was channeling future AG Sessions in not wanting any potheads hanging around.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Vagrancy used to be used to keep undesirables out of town.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Maybe we can use vagrancy to thin out the progs.

  • TW||

    Or just remove all the warning labels on common household items.

  • TW||

    Or just remove all of the warning labels on common household items.

  • Radioactive||

    but what about all those wymen being recruited into STEM jobs??? can't let the evil immigrants get the jobs stolen from merican men...

  • Kivlor||

    It seems reasonable to me that as citizens we discuss whether or not we want more or less legal immigration to the nation. The issue is that no one wants to talk in concrete terms. Is there a number that is too many? Is it possible to assimilate 2 cities the size of Kansas City every single year? Will this many people affect the values of the citizenry?

  • Mitsima||

    Seems to me that a few thousand entitled college brats are far more detrimental to the values, and character, of the citizenry than a few million immigrants.

  • DJF||

    So entitled college brats who are also immigrants would be double the detrimental!

  • colorblindkid||

    This is indeed the problem. It is a nuanced and complicated debate. Very few people want completely open borders, and very few people want a shut down to all immigrants, yet this is largely what each side portrays the other side as believing.

    Personally, I think we should make it as easy a possible for anybody to come here legally for at least a few years, with basically just a background check. After this, however, I absolutely think we should have a super strict deportation policy of anybody who chooses to still come here illegally.

    I really believe that the rise in anti-legal immigration views is largely due to the press and Democrats' deliberate and shamelessly dishonest conflation of illegal and legal immigrants and the merits of opposition to each.

  • James_R||

    The problem is, we can't really run background checks on much of the world's population. They either come from countries with no functioning criminal records databases or their home countries will not share that information with us.

  • colorblindkid||

    Well then a reasonable vetting and surveillance process. There's nothing unconstitutional or inhumane about wanting non-citizen new immigrants to be treated almost like parolees.

  • James_R||

    You can't vet someone from a country with no functioning criminal justice system and not many foreign countries are going to allow U.S. government surveillance teams to run amok on their soil spying on their citizens.

  • KDN||

    The surveillance is obviously for post-immigration. Attempt to vet them to start then stick a body on them for some indeterminate period, likely varying according to the records provided by the earlier government.

    Putting together a proper apparatus to make this sort of thing easier is exactly the sort of thing the UN should be doing instead of junkets to exotic locals for the sole purpose of whining about the Jews and/or global warming.

  • James_R||

    That would entail some sort of global law enforcement agency with global jurisdiction and limitless authority. 4th amendment rights apply to foreign visitors so I'm not sure they could be put under surveillance and treated as parolees.

  • SQRLSY One||

    This is why we need to improve and standardize brain scans... Scan 'em at the border, among other places. Brain scans to differentiate assholes from non-assholes... Suicide bomber v/s wouldn't-hurt-a-fly.

    "Pre-crime", my ass!!! How about, hazard v/s non-hazard? Trump and Trumpistas are doing it already via a clueless meat-cleaver approach... Why not replace meat cleavers with precision laser scapels?

  • Kivlor||

    I would disagree on making it easier for immigrants to move here, for a multitude of reasons. But I understand your position, because I used to hold it.

    It appears to me we can't absorb the immigrants we currently have, and that is evidenced by movements like La Raza and the Chinese protests against the Dalai Lama on the West Coast. These people don't view themselves as Americans and they are proud to state their allegiance is to their motherlands. Granting them the right to be here, to become citizens, to vote, and to have children here who will be automatically citizens with all the same rights is subversive to the Republic.

    Plus, most of them are from third-world hellholes and ruined those nations, which means there is zero reason to think they won't bring the same ruinous values to their new nation. Especially if they place their motherland first.

    Add to this the reality that H1B Visas act as price controls allowing companies to pay lower than market wages I find it difficult to justify these policies at all.

  • Cy||

    Careful, you're making too much sense. The open border feelz crowd want to throw you into their bigot fantasy where they can dismiss anything you say.

  • Kivlor||

    There are some who will likely dismiss everything I say out of hand, regardless of whether I'm a bigot or not. But for those willing to talk, there is hope of constructive dialogue.

  • janon||

    The problem is that this kind of racist, xenophobic crap is considered "common sense" by you people.

    You're so absorbed in your bias you have zero ability to recognize it and instead just seek confirmation from like minded bigots.

    But OK... you want to talk about "protests"? How about the good white boys "protesting" in NC with Swastikas and tiki torches? You're ok with that I assume. Because you know... they're not brown.

    "Most of them are from third world hell holes"

    Most of the PhDs being brought in to fill jobs that meth addicted white morons are too lazy to even attempt to get educated enough to qualify for, then vote against "commies" like Bernie who want to give them free education, are from "third world hell holes"?

    You mean China and India which is where 90% of H1Bs originate?

    Or by "third world hell hole" do you mean the red states that you people infest?

  • HillTown Trader||

    Your bigotry and hate is showing.

    Colleges actually discriminate against equally qualified Citizen students for STEM seats because foreign students pay a higher tuition.

    A seat that goes to a foreginer doesn't go to a citizen.

    The Stem Opt program exempts employers from paying certain taxes and exempts the worker from certain mandates. Employers discriminate against citizen stem grads becuase these exemption make the foreigners cheaper.

    As the foreign Stem grads take undergrad teaching posts from English speaking grad students, women students are ignored by the foreign instructors.

    Government should not put in place programs that disadvantage Citizens over foreigners.

  • thisbrucesmith||

    If they place their motherland first, then I doubt they'll want to submit to that pesky "oath of citizenship" thingy, so they at least won't become citizens themselves. As for their kids, history seems to be on the side of assimilation rather than clinging to the "old country," so I'm not too worried.

    I worry more about the overall effect of all of these policies taken together. For the foreseeable future, a lot of STEM work will have to be done by non-US citizens. If they don't do it here, with technology they'll do much of it remotely from overseas. What then? Will we build a "Great Firewall" like China has? Maybe your answer is "all those businesses and jobs will be coming back." Are you sure? Or will the calculation be that flexibility in hiring and sourcing will trump (pardon the pun) the real and perceived benefits of being "American?"

  • commentguy||

    So many bizarre and unsubstantiated comments.
    1) I don't really see how Hispanics being proud of their heritage is any different than those who embrace their Irish roots. And just because someone holds a different opinion about the legal status of Tibet doesn't make them subversive.
    2) How exactly did grad students ruin their home countries?
    3) The H1B visa program is aimed at high-earning professions, and as the article points out there are just not that many Americans studying the science and engineering degrees that would qualify them for the jobs. To claim that it's about cutting costs is ludicrous, because the cost of all the paperwork and visa fees adds to the price of a foreign worker.

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: Kivlor,

    It seems reasonable to me that as citizens we discuss whether or not we want more or less legal immigration to the nation.


    The Market takes care of that, not "we" - "we" ends up meaning "me and some xenophobic and economically-illiterate buddies of mine."

  • Kivlor||

    Mexican, do nations have a right to exist?

  • BYODB||

    And also why is it so hard for me to get work in Mexico? Should we invade to make them respect my natural right to work on their side of the border?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I have a natural right to run for Mexican Presidente as an American.

    After I win, my first order of business will be to strengthen the wall between Mexico and Central America.

  • EscherEnigma||

    This *is* America we're training about. It wouldn't be the first time we took military action to ensure the economic success of our citizens.

  • Rhywun||

    many Americans have been eschewing these fields

    Why?

  • Longtobefree||

    Surely you don't expect cited sources. Just drink the kool-aid, and more along.

  • Dick Puller, Attorney at Law||

    Maybe because they don't see much point in going into a field where they're likely to be offshored or H1-B'd out of a job. This works out great for open borders advocates, who then argue we need MORE immigrants to make up the shortfall.

    See how nicely that works?

  • janon||

    Maybe because they're lazy, racist, ignorant, morons who think they're geniuses because they discovered like minded morons on Reddit who feed them a steady diet of confirmation bias?

    And they're too busy taking meth to actually attend school?

    But are then *real* quick to rant and rave about the *60% of the f'ing tech industry* that is made up of *white males*?

    Guess they didn't get "offshored" or "H1-B'd"

    Ironic that all you people have are excuses for why you cant even *attempt* to do something, when all of you idiots rant about 'personal responsibility' like it were a religion

  • janon||

    Maybe because they're lazy, racist, ignorant, morons who think they're geniuses because they discovered like minded morons on Reddit who feed them a steady diet of confirmation bias?

    And they're too busy taking meth to actually attend school?

    But are then *real* quick to rant and rave about the *60% of the f'ing tech industry* that is made up of *white males*?

    Guess they didn't get "offshored" or "H1-B'd"

    Ironic that all you people have are excuses for why you cant even *attempt* to do something, when all of you idiots rant about 'personal responsibility' like it were a religion

  • heliskier59||

    Nailed it!!! "personal responsibility"...it's always for the other guy. Pretty sure most of the Trump voters wouldn't have the skill set to be worth anything to Silicon Valley....and they are just too lazy. But God forbid if a Mexican MIT student is found to be undocumented because of something his parents did when he was a toddler....kicking him out will "Make America Great Again"...NOT. That kid will likely contribute more to the GNP than twenty gun-toting inbred Trump voters.

  • ||

    It's important to remember that Trump voters are the sort of people who managed to fail at life despite being while males in America in the late 20th century. Not exactly the intellectual cream of the crop. When you have no real accomplishments to show for in your life, it's pretty easy to decide to be proud of your race, sex, or nationality.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    I am a STEM professor at an R1 American university. Most of my graduate student advisees are from foreign countries, and it is entirely because American's have little interest in attending graduate school in my field. We have fellowship money (earmarked for US citizens) that goes unspent because we do not have enough US citizens in our graduate program. Basically, a US student with a BS in my field can start at $80k after a 4 yr degree, so they have little incentive to pursue a graduate degree. Foreign students do not have as many options, so their incentive to come to the US to pursue a graduate degree is much greater.

    In sum, getting a graduate degree is not much different than picking vegetables to most US STEM students. Thus, we need foreign students to fill the gap.

    One could argue that we need to do more to incentivize US students to pursue a grad degree, but - as with the argument that we should pay vegetable pickers more so that American's will want the job - costs will go up significantly. The amount of active research performed would likely plummet as a result.

  • Dick Puller, Attorney at Law||

    And at least in the case of the vegetable pickers, that argument is total bullshit.

    The cost of actually picking the vegetables is only about 10% of retail price of the vegetables (the farmer only sees about 30% of the retail price in total). The biggest component reflected in the retail prices of vegetables is the cost of transportation and storage. Even if the cost of picking the vegetables doubled or tripled, the increase in retail prices would be negligible.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    One could also make the argument that the whole university and advanced research systems are so corrupted by leftists who politicize everything, that American kids are not interested in that. In other words, the problem is not American kids but your peers running the show.

    This graduate system is using government influence to keep businesses from providing incentives for research that they want to benefit from. Then that influence is used to fill a supposed void of grad students with non-Americans with minimal cost to universities, as foreign labor is cheap. The universities retain rights to the labor of these kids.

    If only Universities could import non-Americans to play NCAA football to keep more of that profit!

  • heliskier59||

    You could make that argument if you had evidence of such.....which you don't.

  • commentguy||

    Is that your best hypothesis? That American kids don't want to study science at university because they've heard so much about "safe spaces"? And that universities are actively discouraging businesses from investing in research? And that universities somehow get away with paying foreign academics significantly less than American academics?

    You are crazy.

  • BYODB||

    Interesting, if true. Perhaps you could shed some light on what the incentive is to become a grad student if an undergrad degree pays 80k a year. I only ask because it's odd that foreign nationals would be so much more interested in a grad degree when the undergrad pays fairly well.

    I suspect it's because a student visa continues if you attend grad school, which is it's own set of perverse incentives, but I can't say that with any authority.

  • EscherEnigma||

    IIRC from my time in college, it's easier for a foreign student with an undergrad degree to get in for a grad program then it is for a foreign student to get in with a highschool equivalent.

    Once they're in, they can get networking opportunities that make it easier for them to everyway turn their student visa into a work visa.

    So for them, it's not 70k job or grad school, it's grad school or don't come over. That said, the "worth" of degrees (undergrad or grad) varies a lot. In computer science for example, the "grad school bonus" ends up roughly in line with two or three years of experience. So (at least when I was in school) the CS grad program was fool of two groups: Americans that were interested in research and would probably be continuing on to PhD, and international students that needed a foot in the door.

  • ||

    The reason is that it is easier to get a work visa if you have an advanced degree.
    For the most part, foreign students come for the Bachelors first and stay for the graduate degree. There's not really a whole hell of a lot who get their Bachelors at a foreign university and then get accepted to a US graduate program. Those labs are really scraping the bottom of the barrel usually.
    And they pay full tuition usually too, because they can't be funded by public money.

    What your talking about is students who want to come to the US so badly that they will pay 6-10 years of full tuition so they can eventually get a job at a US company and get sponsored for a work visa. They have to be smart enough to get accepted to a US university, willing to pay for it, smart enough to get accepted to grad school, and dedicated enough to slog through years of grad school just so they can have a chance at a job at a place like IBM or Apple. If we're not going to accept people like that, then you might as well just say let's close the border.

  • RafaelGuzman||

    I have had scores of applicant resumes come across my desk that indicated that they attained an undergraduate degree in India or China (generally, Electrical Engineering or Computer Science), and who are enrolled or have just graduated from a US institution with a graduate degree.

    I agree with your point though that these students seem well qualified to me, and there's no reason I shouldn't consider them, especially given the dearth of qualified American applicants.

  • RafaelGuzman||

    Mainly applications for the positions at my company come from foreigners with an undergraduate degree in India (or somewhere else), and a graduate degree here. I look at this more favorably when reviewing applicants because it is far more easy to verify someone's academic background at a US institution than to figure out what a foreign institution teaches, and how well that prepares them for the position at hand.

    I prefer applicants who speak English natively, which would rule out a lot of foreigners, except for every 30 or so qualified foreign applicants, I might get 1 qualified American, even considering my preference for native English skills. The vast majority of Americans in my field (software engineering) go to a handful of companies on the coasts, meaning that a small software firm like I work for needs to consider foreigners, or else the position goes unfilled.

    What I dislike about the arguments made for restricting STEM graduates from entering or staying is that it isn't as though it's possible to fill the positions at my company with unskilled or unqualified applicants... there's a minimum skill threshold and if an applicant can't meet that at the outset they would be a disaster to our bottom line (writing bad code is worse than not having someone write code at all).

  • TW||

    Is it possible that a graduate degree in your particular STEM field may not really have much practical value and this is case of credentialing for the sake of credentialing? Kind of like how a lot of jobs list a four year degree in any random subject as a minimum qualification even if it has no relation to the actual job they're being hired to perform.

    I'm not arguing against education (I have a post-secondary degree) and I can believe that in some fields someone with a master's or a doctorate would generally be better at their job than someone with just a bachelor's degree. But whether that is because a person with an advanced degree is more likely to have more years of practical experience or whether it's because they actually learned some knowledge or skills as part of their degree program, it's not always clear.

  • ||

    Or it could be that US kids are too lazy and complacent to put in the work necessary to learn the higher level math and physics necessary to get through a STEM degree. They've been raised on video games and told that work should be fun, and when they get to engineering school they find out it's actually hard and drop out.

  • GeneralWeygand||

    "because American's have little interest..."

    Your post would be believable if your writing didn't reveal your lack of basic English

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Grammar is optional today, and all thoughts are possessive.

  • Old Monkey||

    It wouldn't be hard to create programs allowing graduates to work towards a Master's degree over a longer period of time. $80K in many areas of the US with bandwidth and other resources, explains succinctly why we don't need foreign workers who aren't that special. Unless spectacular, only thing likely making them special to me, would be marrying an American citizen, and assimilating.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    "many Americans have been eschewing these fields"

    Sad to say it's probably because most of them don't even know what the word "eschew" means. They probably think, "Yeah, engineering is the kind of job field I could really sink my teeth into, so I will tell the pollster that I definitely S-chew that!"

    So, it's basically another indictment of public education.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Everytime you eschew I say bless you.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    ...My organization's research found that international students make up more than half of the full-time enrollment in about 90% of U.S. graduate level programs...

    Part time graduate programs are loaded with American students, taking courses after work.

  • BYODB||

    I suspect that a foreign student would need to be full-time by necessity as they likely don't also have provision to work in the United States by default. Additionally I wager the terms of their student Visa requires them to be full time students.

  • Cy||

    There was an article on Reason recently about this exact scenario.

  • Brandybuck||

    Average Republican: "I mean *illegal* immgrants! I am not against immigration, I'm only against *illegal* people! Why can't you flag hating libruhls understand that! Stop putting words in my mouth! Make 'Murica Great Again!"

  • colorblindkid||

    You realize that the deliberate and dishonest conflation of illegal and legal immigration is partially responsible for the rise of anti-legal immigration views, right?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Pretty sure that the recent animosity towards H1-B visas is entirely due to the way companies have been using them.

  • colorblindkid||

    That, too. Let's not forget that Trump's economic and immigration rhetoric are a lot closer to Bernie's than they are to many mainstream Republicans and Democrats.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Sort of?

    Tone and means aside, Trump and Sanders would probably largely agree on *new* immigrants, though for different reasons.

    The disagreement would be in the topic of immigrants who are already here. While Trump is (most of the time) on team " lock them up, they're criminals", Sanders prefers to treat foreign workers the same as American workers, thus eliminating the economic incentive to employing immigrants vs. Americans.

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: EscherEnigma,

    Pretty sure that the recent animosity towards H1-B visas is entirely due to the way companies have been using them.


    You mean with the freedom that God Himself bestowed on every one of His children?

  • EscherEnigma||

    [citation needed]

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    I'm pretty sure He didn't espouse the idea that displacing a native in a country with another person that works for less money while giving kickbacks to their sponsor as a merit to strive for. Or maybe I didn't read the whole book.

  • heliskier59||

    I would agree with that.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The LP is OK with non-dangerous immigrants. To me that means libertarian immigrants. I translate LP platforms for foreigners to read wistfully, and even record them in mp3 format. Mexico has a struggling Partido Libertario that could use your donation to make These States safer. The State Department does everything it can to export prohibitionism and economic collapse everywhere. It then acts surprised that the borders are overrun with ragged refugees. Destabilization used to be the Soviet Union's job...

  • Rhywun||

    If high-skilled foreign nationals trained in STEM fields in America can't qualify for visas, then who can?

    I've never been comfortable with the elitism represented in this and other statements in the article. If we're discussing who to let stay (as opposed to how many), as long they are a net benefit, why can't they stay? I personally know foreigners who aren't STEM eggheads or sports figures but they're also not moochers, and who got kicked out. We don't want them.

  • ||

    I personally know foreigners who aren't STEM eggheads or sports figures but they're also not moochers, and who got kicked out. We don't want them.

    I also know plenty of foreigners (and natives) with advanced STEM degrees whom I wouldn't hit over the head with a 2x4 lest I damage a perfectly good 2x4.

  • BYODB||

    I know a married couple that just had their first kid. Both of them have STEM degrees, and neither of them work in STEM jobs because the jobs in their particular field turned out to pay virtually nothing unless they go on to get at least a Grad degree but truly they would need a Doctorate for a reasonable job that pays about the same as someone who graduated with an undergrad in, say, finance.

    Hence I take these sort of reports with a grain of salt, since 'STEM" covers a wide range of almost completely unaffiliated fields.

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: BYODB,

    You actually made the same point the author made: that there aren't sufficient STEM students to fill those spots. This fact has nothing to do with lack of competence from American-born students but, as your example suggests, because of their personal economic decisions, but that doesn't mean the government gets to decide which students should be accepted by colleges and which should not, through the imposition of irrational and frank anti-market policies.

  • BYODB||

    The fact of the matter is that not all STEM fields are created equal, and some of them amount to glorified jobs that a high school student could perform but because of Government interference it 'requires' an undergraduate degree at the minimum.

    Plenty of jobs are essentially 'testing' gigs that require you to perform the same six or seven tests over and over again for the rest of your life if you stay in that job. This is most definitely true in medical and petrochemical gigs, and I imagine it's much the same in plenty of industries.

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Nothing you say above has anything to do with justifying allowing government the power to centrally-plan the economy. Nothing. You're merely repeating something that is already well known.

  • BYODB||

    Would you also consider a complete shutdown of all immigration to be central planning of the economy? Why, or why not?

  • ||

    Plenty of jobs are essentially 'testing' gigs that require you to perform the same six or seven tests over and over again for the rest of your life if you stay in that job.

    Well, those aren't the people getting positions at graduate research labs.
    Graduate research labs need people who are capable of graduate level research. Duh.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, my personal experience with holders of H1-B visas is not at all like the descriptions in the article. I was a programmer for 45 years. All of the visa holders I worked with, or knew about at any of the companies I worked in, were lower or middle level programmers. Their only distinguishing feature was that they worked for less money. Some were good, some were bad, just like the Americans they worked next to. No hard to find exceptionally skilled geniuses, just grunt coders. Most were fluent in English, those who were not were always part of a team of visa holders, and had ready access to translators.
    As to all these 'valuable' jobs going off-shore, the off-shore workers were the lowest skilled, and very few had mastered English. (But they were working hard at English, because that was how they got a raise.)
    I don't think any American colleges will go broke if the number of visas is reduced.
    I also don't care if the number is increased. I never lost a job to a visa holder, because I had the skills they were supposed to have.

  • Rhywun||

    I find the article's implication that we need all these foreigners to fill existing grad school slots to be unpersuasive. Not to mention the argument that we need them to subsidize the poor American students.

    In fact, the whole thing reads like a plea for doing what's best for American grad school professors more than anyone else.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    ^This guy gets it.

    I also felt that this read like a propaganda piece for continuing the status quo by helping those in power at research universities. They get cheap foreign labor to further their interests and the problem of the poor education system in America never gets changed.

  • Cy||

    Correct. It's the elite version of crop pickers. They'll do it for less because they won't/can't make waves. The schools get to keep the intellectual rights and technically don't have to pay them because they're 'students.'

  • ||

    This is literaly the dumbest argument in the thread.

    What do you think research universities do? They do research. They develop new technologies. Those new technologies create jobs and improve people's lives. They also ultimately even feed into things like national defense, which a nationalist ought to support.

    You want to stop America from being the most technologically advance country in the world? Keeping research universities from being able to fill their labs with international grad students - and forcing those international students to leave the country after their degrees are complete - that's a great fucking way to go about doing it.

    Those research universities are NOT out there making money off the sweat of a bunch of
    "cheap foreign labor". They aren't profit-making institutions at all. They are producing research under public grants. Research which is publicly disclosed in scientific journals and under patents.

    You want to change the crappy US education system? Great. Support school vouchers. But that's not going to happen overnight and you know it. Shooting ourselves in the foot by fucking over the universty research labs who are developing the next generation technologies is a really fucking retarded way of going about doing it.

  • buybuydandavis||

    What do you think research universities do? They do research.

    They apply for grant money.

    That's what the vast majority of professors in STEM do. All day. They're not doing research. They are fund raising for the university.

  • ||

    Here's a hint you drooling fucking idiot: You don't get much grant money if you're not producing results.
    You think the folks at the NIH aren't paying attention to who is publishing papers and in what journals?

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: Rhywun,

    Not to mention the argument that we need them to subsidize the poor American students.


    There's no "we".

  • Old Mexican's Speedos||

    Re: Longtobefree,

    Some were good, some were bad, just like the Americans they worked next to.


    Indeed and if you even build your own company, you get to choose to whom you offer your money. Leave others alone.

  • ||

    Some were good, some were bad, just like the Americans they worked next to.

    So? Why shouldn't they be permitted to work in the US, if they can find an employer willing to hire them?

  • Longtobefree||

    I never said they shouldn't work here. Obviously they were working here. I am just saying that the program is less about bringing in foreigners to fill "high skill technical positions" where US citizens cannot be found, and more about wage levels.
    If the H1-B program were implemented as designed, the companies would have to show that there were no citizens qualified to do the work, AND pay a higher wage, not a lower one, to the immigrant. So instead of $35.00/hr programmers, imported where citizens are paid $50.00/hr, (and available but not hired) they would have to show there were no citizen programmers available, and pay the immigrants $75.00/hr. Or actually, not hire programmers at all, but maybe, just maybe, a computer hardware designer who has an idea for a new model super-computer, at a bazillion dollars/yr.

  • ||

    It is already a requirement of the H1-B program to show that the worker on the visa is being paid at least the prevailing wage. And the numbers of H1-B visas are not large enough to affect prevailing wage rates.

    I know this because I was on an H1-B visa. I got paid a normal wage for my industry for what was (at the time) an entry level position. At least according to all reported salary information I could find.

    Most H1-B are basically entry level people - the company is trying them out to decide if they want to sponsor them for a green card. If they do sponsor them, they have to prove no US citizens are available as part of the green card process.

    Now, it should be mentioned that the Department of Labor is in charge of these labor certs, and their interests are on the side of domestic labor, so it is *not easy* to prove these things.

    Secondly, it's a little unfair to the immigrant that they have to jump through all these hoops. It's why it';s really really hard to get sponsored for immigration via the employment route, while other people just go marry a US citizen and get approved in a couple of years. If you think America should have more high skilled immigration, this is the path that should be easier, not harder.

  • ||

    This would mean pushing both innovations -- and related jobs -- to other countries.

    And? With open borders and globalism this is a non-issue, right? Unless your IP, trade, education, healthcare, etc. practices required the talent to come here and stay, like some manner of pyramid scheme, you're taking the exact same stance that you'd say was retarded if applied to free trade. If there's no overhead to movement/production across the borders, why does it matter if the innovation happens in America, Europe, India, or China?

  • damikesc||

    And? With open borders and globalism this is a non-issue, right? Unless your IP, trade, education, healthcare, etc. practices required the talent to come here and stay, like some manner of pyramid scheme, you're taking the exact same stance that you'd say was retarded if applied to free trade. If there's no overhead to movement/production across the borders, why does it matter if the innovation happens in America, Europe, India, or China?

    We're also supposed to just assume that other countries have immigration policies as insane as ours?

    Hint: they do not.

    Getting work visas is a bitch in most other countries. Getting citizenship is a fucking nightmare compared to here.

  • ||

    Free trade and free movement of labor are complements. Efficiencies are gained by allowing centers of industry to develop (i.e. Silicon Valley), and allowing the most highly skilled workers in those fields to migrate to those locations. This isn't really any different than how microchip supply chains have developed in Asia. You get a concentration of certain industries in one area and they feed on each other - so that area become a magnet for the most skilled workers in that industry. In the case of Silicon Valley, you get a concentration of people with software development skills and that feeds on itself and becomes a magnet for the most skilled software developers. The most efficiency is to be gained by allowing that center of industry to develop to the maximum extent - which means letting businesses and workers relocate to that area.

  • TGoodchild||

    "Without international students, therefore, there simply wouldn't be enough students to sustain a full range of graduate level STEM course offerings, which would shrink the choices for U.S. college students. There will be a net retrenchment in STEM in higher-ed, which will mean that America will graduate even fewer American STEM students than it currently does."

    This is a non-sequitor. I don't know whether the author had this information available to him, but how many U.S. national students are denied entry into these STEM course offerings? I sincerely doubt MIT, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon, etc., are struggling to fill seats in their graduate programs. Further, what percentage of international students wind up repatriating to the U.S.?

    The cycle appears to be: (i) undergraduate ad graduate programs preferentially admit international students; (ii) students graduate and leave to their home countries; (iii) U.S. employers outsource jobs to those recent departures. If the goal is simply to do what is best for American enterprise, that all sounds fine, but spare me the moralizing.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The author is just perpetuating the lie that lefties tell themselves to be on the open border bandwagon.

    The government has made education in the USA bad, so import non-Americans and never fix the underlying issue of the bad education system.

  • BYODB||

    The fact of the matter is that foreign nationals are around the same intelligence as Americans. We're all humans with relatively the same capacity for thought, at least as far as we know.


    Which means that if there aren't enough STEM graduates there is some other reason that has nothing to do with intelligence.


    Why does no one talk about what that reason might be, one might ask? It's almost like there's an agenda that has very little to do with immigration or STEM in particular.

  • EscherEnigma||

    What you talking about? Lots of professionals do talk about it. It's basic supply/demand. Namely, that if you artificially inflate the supply, you get more negotiating power and ability to at your prices.

    It's economics, not a pack of trained Americans.

  • ||

    US universities recruit the global "cream of the crop".

    However, your correct for some reason many of the brightest US students do not go into STEM fields. It's not because they don't pay well. It might be because the public education system doesn't teach math and science well, or because for some cultural reason American kids aren't as interested in tech. Many people are interested in those reasons and there are significant efforts (have been for years) to get American kids more interested in STEM careers.

    Nevertheless, those problems aren't going to go away overnight, and foreign grad students fill immediate needs in research labs in the US. Not allowing them to come to the US would only harm research programs at US universities and damage America's technological advantage, as would sending them back to their home countries afterwards.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The LP is OK with non-dangerous immigrants. To me that's libertarian immigrants. Donating a few dollars to the Partido Libertario Mexicano would do a lot more to end the looter kleptocracy those folks are fleeing. Libertarian parties are illegal in many countries...

  • DarrenM||

    We can't deport stupid people who happened to be born here (and you're an idiot if you think this is partisan), but I tend to think it a good thing if import intelligent immigrants.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I don't know... I heard grumbling a few years back from right-wing talking heads about repealing the birthright citizenship part of the 14th amendment.

    This was, admittedly, also when folks were talking about "anchor babies" a lot.

    Either way, such talk did die out (and I'm not sure it ever hit "mainstream", even among conservatives). But with the current anti-immigrant fervor, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a reprise.

  • WesSeid||

    It's obvious the birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment is only intended for slaves and children of legal Americans. Do people think America passed multiple immigration acts that were only for "free white people of good character" to then want illegal alien foreign invaders to have an anchor baby and get welfare forever?

  • WesSeid||

    Import foreign students to become imported foreign workers, whom employers can pay less, which lowers wages of Americans, which creates a bigger rich/poor income gap. Repeat until all Americans are poor except for the 1%.

    The OPT program isn't just a few thousand students/employees, and isn't even just 45,000 STEM workers. It's more like 400,000 overall, and there is no limit, so there will probably be more next year. One out of every two or three jobs for American college grads goes to a foreign student/worker in the OPT program. And companies get tax breaks for hiring OPT workers.

    No wonder Americans can't afford college anymore since foreign students help increase demand which increases the price. No wonder American wages get lower and lower as they are replaced by cheap imported foreign labor.

    And there's more to this than just economics. If you dump large numbers of people from foreign cultures into your culture, your culture will be changed, forever. And most likely not in a good way. Immigration is good when it can be controlled and people are assimilated. Immigration destroys countries when there is too much of it.

  • Jim Strom||

    Nice propaganda. An objective analysis would also discuss the statutory underpinning of the program and the well-documented abuse of the program to avoid filling open positions with more expensive US citizens. Or the abuses of immigrants who get here and can't change jobs, among other things.

    If these are the jobs of the future, then we need to give the education system the necessary time to catch up to the demand. If we take the shortcut of importing foreign labor to meet supposed short term labor needs, then we are reducing demand for that labor. Reducing demand of course lowers wages, and this reduces the encouragement for domestic students and schools to meet the labor demand. Let the well-heeled tech companies invest in domestic training and education. We can't just hire from abroad every time there is an unfilled job.

  • heliskier59||

    So maybe we should just kick out Elon Musk along with Tesla and wait for some West Virginian coal miner to step in.

  • Jim Strom||

    It's not about whether immigrants contribute, it's about what our national immigration policy should be from the perspective of "what benefits Americans the most". Whatever our policy, it should be guided by what does the most good for the most US citizens, not by what is best for individual would-be immigrants, or what is best for a select set of business firms. You can admit many STEM immigrants, and surely it will benefit them and it will benefit some Americans. But how many should we admit? Why do you think the law requires a H1B requestor to prove that they couldn't fill the job with a citizen? Why do you think there is abuse of this program?

    And if citing an individual case proves a point, wouldn't it be fair for one to say there should be zero immigration because single immigrant X did bad thing Y? Good policy isn't made by anecdote. It's made by statistics and by looking at the big picture. And speaking of which, you don't answer my original point, which is that too much immigration can prevent the US labor supply from adapting, which obviously takes more time than importing people from abroad.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Government of, by, and for *the people*.

    And that doesn't mean the people of the world. That means Americans.

  • HillTown Trader||

    Stem Opt exempts these foreign hires from certain taxes and mandates, making them cheaper then hiring citizens.

    A set at a college that goes to a foreign student is a seat that is denied to a citizen student.

    Many times, as that a foreign student may be paying a higher tuition then the citizen student, many colleges actively discriminate against citizens in favor of the more lucrative foreigners.

    Undergrad stem classes are often taught by foreign grad students, who with amazing consistency refuse to acknowledge women students in class and grade them lower.

    Maybe US tax dollars should be going to support the Stem education of equally qualified Citizen students rather then discriminating against them.

  • ||

    A seat at a college that goes to a foreign student is a seat that is denied to a citizen student.

    No, it really isn't. US STEM programs are not full. There's room for more students if they were interested in enrolling.

  • Jim Strom||

    Where is your proof? My understanding is that most STEM programs of even marginal quality are booked full.

  • Bra Ket||

    Schools can and do just hire more faculty as needed to get that sweet non-resident cash. It's a little funny to see how our supposedly-egalitarian college system trips over themselves to attract well-heeled foreign students.

    However I don't buy that OPT is a factor in foreign students coming here. US schools are the prestige leaders in the world and every student (or parent that cares) apparently is a prestige whore these days. A growing trend these days is middle class chinese sending their kids to board somewhere here and attend american high schools to help their chances subsequently. I don't get how the legality works but I know people making a living as host families.

    Of course another big trend is to exploit and manipulate the system. India and China especially probably can get any accolade, recommendation, transcript, school admission (to some crappy for-profit college) or whatever they want to get and stay here as long as needed, they just need to pay enough for it. If we must limit the visas we should be a lot smarter about assessing merit.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Reason is appalled that Trump puts American workers over foreigners and corporate profits.

  • chemjeff||

    Because Americans are just better people and deserve more opportunities than those filthy foreigners. Got it!

  • Cliff B||

    Hi chemjeff - That is not the point at all. I certainly don't feel that Americans are better. It is a matter of protecting your own resources. E.g.: do you leave your doors unlocked, and let everyone come in from the street and take whatever you have? - because they are "just as good as you"?

    Don't you agree that one must strike a balance between helping the world and protecting what one has? - if one makes helping the world the top priority, then in no time our own place will be just like the rest of the world - in a pretty sorry state. Help yes, but give everything away, no.

    Regards,
    Cliff

  • Devastator||

    No one said filthy. There is no shame in helping your own. That "citizen of the world" bullshit is superceded by loyalty to your country. I have no problem with upping the immigration numbers, immigration should be based on merit and what you can bring to the nation. We need more smart, well educated people to compete, we don't need to go overboard and just taking whoever drops by.

  • Cliff B||

    The problem is not that people are sent home after getting an education here: the problem is that so many are admitted to our educational institutions - crowding out US students. At Berkeley, half the tech students are Asian.

    This is not being isolationist, or anti-anyone. I was once married to an Asian woman, and my sister's husband is Asian. This is not about individuals: it is about policy. A policy that forsakes our own people for those from abroad is unfair to US students and workers.

    I work in IT, and wherever I go, 90% of the staff are imports - from India mostly. Companies hire them for one reason: they are cheaper. It is not for their high skills - it is about price. As individuals, they are all wonderful people; but it is unfair to US citizens. It is bad policy. I don't want anyone deported; but we need to throttle the flow, and favor US citizens for education and employment.

  • Devastator||

    Yep and that should end. Salaries should be within a reasonable distance (say 5%) of the industry average in the area. I have no problem with merit based placements, but this cheap labor scheme needs to end.

  • Devastator||

    H1B visa recipients should be treated with respect. It should not be tied to employers, that is the biggest mistake. Also their pay should be competitive with the current members of the company with similar levels of experience. If the employer can show that then everything should be good. Capping the # of visas available is good, but the current level is okay. Trump and his ilk want to halve the number of H1B visas which is ridiculous. I have no problem with going to a strictly merit based immigration scheme, you can bring yourself and your immediate family (spouse and kids, mother and father), but other family members get no special treatment. All these problems have common sense solutions but both sides are so full of themselves they can't see any other way than their own.

  • fronteirteg||

    What is "common sense" to you is vile and repugnant to others. You need to open your eyes and look in the mirror.
    The H1B visa program has been abused for more than a decade by large tech companies and that needs to stop.
    Researchers in the medical, electrical, nuclear and alternative power fields are very much needed.
    Computer programmers (coders) are not.
    When the market raises programmer salaries, more people in the US would want to become programmers thus solving its own supply problems. The H1B program artificially deflates the value of the commodity in the US, it's government subsidizing an industry by flooding it with more resources. What are your thoughts on China dumping steal in the US market? How about the government paying farmers to plow corn fields under to "stabilize" the price of corn. Or stealing a farmers raisin crop because he refused to join the co-op?

  • commentguy||

    So what you're saying is that H1B should be revised to exclude computer programmers (because school kids will only start showing an interest in coding if the salaries are higher, and a tech company can totally wait for four or five years while those kids are at uni) but otherwise allowed to continue?

  • fronteirteg||

    The H1B visa program is so popular now because companies have realized that even with the reduced labor cost of foreign programmers, having programmers on site to deal directly with stake holders completes projects on time and on budget. Programmers no onsite typically create all kinds of cost overruns and time delays due to mis-communication or conflicting sleep schedules.

    The H1B Visa program has been proven to be abused by large tech companies and programmer farms.
    H1B is supposed to be used to attract the best of the best scientific minds, not a bunch of "software engineers" who are actually just coders, not developers.

    Tens of thousands of US born computer programmers are currently out of work because they compete against H1B visas issued to immigrant students fresh out of college.
    This is well documented.

    If the H1Bs were only issued to physicists, medical researchers, energy researchers, computer related electrical engineering researchers, mobile phone electrical engineers, network system software developers, operating system programmers, I'd have no problem. But the people employed through H1B are making web pages, mobile phone games, accounting systems, snap chat apps, commercial inventory systems, retail sales systems, etc... The incredibly boring stuff that US programmers are very capable of doing, but Google and Microsoft want to pay less and the only way to do that is to lobby the government to let these people stay in the country.

  • MikeyParks||

    Having high-tech credentials, medical degrees, engineering degrees means nothing. They're still willing to strap on bomb belts. Don't waste your tears on them. Shed your tears for Americans who grieve for their murdered loved ones. I don't think it makes it any easier to say, "Well, at least your daughter was killed by an engineer."

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