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Should Techies Trump All Others In Immigration Reform? 231

theodp writes "In an open letter on TechCrunch, Vivek Wadhwa calls on Congressman Luis Gutierrez to lift his 'hold on Silicon Valley' and stop tying immigration reform for highly-skilled STEM immigrants to the plight of undocumented immigrants. So, why should the STEM set get first dibs? 'The issues of high-skilled and undocumented immigrants are both equally important,' says Wadhwa, but 'the difference is that the skilled workers have mobility and are in great demand all over the world. They are getting frustrated and are leaving in droves.' Commenting on Gutierrez's voting record, Wadhwa adds, 'I would have voted for visas for 50,000 smart foreign students graduating with STEM degrees from U.S. universities over bringing in 55,000 randomly selected high-school graduates from abroad. The STEM graduates would have created jobs and boosted our economy. The lottery winners will come to the U.S. with high hopes, but will face certain unemployment and misery because of our weak economy.' So, should Gutierrez cede to Wadhwa's techies-before-Latinos proposal, or would this be an example of the paradox of virtuous meritocracy undermining equality of opportunity?"
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Should Techies Trump All Others In Immigration Reform?

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  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @10:16AM (#42858381) Homepage Journal
    Back in 200 when Bush II was elected. most people did not really know or care about immigration. Reagan had solved a big part of the problem of the problem through amnesty, the ones most effected, tech, recreation, and oil, were not a huge part of the national psyche. Bush was elected on a very soft policy towards undocumented workers.

    But then those undocumented workers started entering the midwest, the economy tanked to 10 years, 9/11, etc and everyone began to freak.

    Some of the problems with firms who need technical labor is legitimate. Multinational firms, for example Oil firms, do have a need to transfer people to the US for temporary or long term assignments. Software developers simply trying to use the H1B visa to gain indentured servants is going to interfere with that. Like wise recreation facilities, like ski resorts, simply looking for seasonal labor needs available H1B visas to grant non-US residents short term assignments. Again, firms looking for indentured servants though the H1B visa program interferes with this.

    But in a larger sense this about competition. If one works in meat packing plant, one does not want to be competing against someone who will do a days work, instead of the 90% that has become the norm. If one is looking for technical job, it is much harder to compete with a million world wide candidates than 100,000 US candidates.

    So to me these are the question. Are we so afraid of the free market and competition that we are going to continue to impose regulations on businesses that say they are not allowed to hire the best candidate possible.? It is clear that most conservative believe we should. The second is are we going to invest in education and training, hold out kids up to the highest standards, and leave behind this idea that we deserve a job just because we were born in the US, and expect people to get out there and hustle instead of sitting back on the sofa waiting for a job to be presented? This is a hard pill to swallow, but the internet ,cheap air travel, and the widespread teaching of english, means that isolation is no longer a viable policy.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @10:36AM (#42858557)
    Wants highly trained, highly skilled people when immigrating. Try to immigrate to Mexico. If you are a fruit picker, you aren't going to be able to. IT person with a great skillset? Your likelihood of being let in greatly improves.

    But yes, lets bash America for wanting the same thing every other country does when allowing people to immigrate, some standards.
  • Re:How about... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @10:52AM (#42858709)

    I'm all for increasing STEM graduates in the USA. But according to this article [usnews.com] there were 600,000 unfilled STEM jobs in the USA last year, and 300,000 unemployed STEM workers ("only one unemployed STEM worker for two unfilled STEM jobs throughout the country"- not finding one of those 600k jobs due to mismatched skill sets). This does include skilled blue-collar jobs. Even if a decent STEM education program were implemented now, and enough students entered it, it would be several years before they were ready to enter the workforce. Those jobs are there now. If there were a surplus of STEM workers in the USA, or even close to it, then there's no way we should be importing thousands of foreign STEM workers- but that doesn't seem to be the case.

  • Re:Blah, blah, blah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitalisAkujin ( 846133 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @11:19AM (#42859019) Homepage

    There is a shortage.

    I run a small team of four people in a small publishing company. My work is 9-5 to the dot. I don't work weekends or after hours unless the site is down in a catastrophic way and that's incredibly rare for us. I'm required to be a full stack web developer since the whole team is so small. I need to know Linux OS administration as well as engineering level PHP to maintain a number of web properties.

    When I was looking for our 4th developer by far the most impressive resume came from a guy in Moscow. When I looked him up I saw he had extensive open source experience working on a major PHP framework. The fact that I couldn't just hire him like anyone from the local market was incredibly frustrating. Eventually I did find a 23 year old economics major from Northwestern that beat out 25 other resumes. This process took about four weeks. You don't need 10 years of experience. You can become a full stack PHP/JavaScript developer in under 2 years.

    Being older doesn't disqualify you. Not being able to produce is what disqualifies you. No business is gonna spend months teaching you basic practices. When employees pay for training it's when you can already do something of value to the company and it's usually a weekend seminar or something to that effect.

    I'd much rather pay one good developer a higher wage that can do something for me in a day rather than pay an average developer an average wage.

    By the way if you want more evidence just look at how many recruiters are calling you. There is always a shortage when you get 5 phone calls a week minimum.

    Saying that employers should "pound sand" because they can't find a single person in 200+ resumes is incredibly short sighted. That person might be someone who needs to lead a project that will in-turn become a profit generator for a company and in-turn require new people to be hired. And yet because of a short sighted entitlement on the part of the american worker we instead block foreigners. Yes let's make them pay taxes in another country.

    By the way I make 75k and I'm 25. At one point I wanted to go into IT but I didn't see any money there. Development is where it's at. I started by writing little scripts in high school for gaming websites. Went onto start a few projects in college. And now I have 10 years experience despite being only 25.

    You can easily make 120-160k in NYC doing what I do. I just happen to work in the suburbs.

  • Re:How about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karl Cocknozzle ( 514413 ) <kcocknozzle@ h o t m a i l.com> on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:30PM (#42860113) Homepage

    How about no STEM visas for anyone? Instead, throw the effort at growing these folks at home

    Could the mod who moderated "flamebait" on this please anonymously post justification? We have 20 million unemployed, many of them techies over 40 who can't get a call back because the employer prefers cheaper (pronounced "younger") people who don't have as many family complications and the expectations of good benefits (like health insurance and pension/401k match.)

    It seems to me that it is a perfectly legitimate point of view, and not an invitation to flaming, that we shouldn't be importing something we already have a supply of (and the capacity to generate more of) just to depress wages. Part of the problem is the attitude that an employee must either have the sun, moon, and stars (and often in quantities that don't jive with reality--i.e. a demand for 15 years of .Net experience, for example) to earn a competitive salary (i.e. one that would entice you to leave your current job) or be willing to work so cheaply that the employer would be foolish not to pay for a little training to "catch them up" on the job.

  • by Adam Ricketson ( 2821631 ) on Monday February 11, 2013 @12:38PM (#42860229)
    And within the country, allowing in skilled migrants promotes equality by increasing competition at the top of the wage scale. Dean Baker included this as one of the ways that the upper classes protect themselves (competition for thee, not for me) http://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/cns.html#2 [deanbaker.net] Anyway, as a knowledge worker, I'm totally comfortable with inviting more "competitors" because I actually think of them as "colleagues". I think that their presence will increase the productivity of native knowledge workers sufficiently to compensate for any loss due to competition.

The optimum committee has no members. -- Norman Augustine