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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why We Need More Immigrants

Because Americans are, alas, no longer as smart? as well-educated, nor as motivated, as foreigners.*  The latest evidence, from Virginia's usually MIA United States Senator Mark Warner:
A small but crucial immigration reform
Roanoke Times editorial

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner joked this week that he "didn't get the memo you're supposed to take presidential election years off." Fortunately, such partisan pablum seems to get stuck in the Virginia Democrat's spam filter.

Warner's latest bipartisan project brings together fellow Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida and Jerry Moran of Kansas. The four senators introduced legislation Tuesday to encourage startup companies through targeted tax incentives and smarter use of university research initiatives. But the central focus of the Startup Act 2.0 is an effort to modernize a small but crucial slice of U.S.immigration policy.

The bill calls for the creation of two new visas for legal immigrants: an entrepreneur's visa that allows foreign-born business talent to remain in this country and create jobs, and a STEM visa for U.S.-educated men and women with post-graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. The legislation also eliminates a restrictive cap on the number of employment-based immigrant visas that can be issued to individuals from a single country.

The goal motivating Warner and his colleagues is to solve what researchers at Duke University have termed a reverse brain drain. A university analysis found that a quarter of technology and engineering companies created in the United States from 1995 to 2005 had a foreign-born CEO or top technology executive. Those companies collectively employed 450,000 workers in 2005.

Many more highly skilled immigrants and would-be entrepreneurs from India, Britain, China, Taiwan and Japan are waiting for permanent resident visas. Only about 120,000 visas are available annually for skilled foreign-born workers, and no more than 7 percent of that number can go to immigrants from any one country. That means entrepreneurs from India and China are returning to their home countries to establish businesses or moving to places with more flexible immigration laws like Canada, Singapore, Dubai and Australia. [link]
It shouldn't have to be like this. But we've done it to ourselves. American students graduate - with honors ... - and are functionally stupid. And unmotivated. Except where video games are concerned.

So we find ourselves in need of foreigners to keep us in the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed.

Kinda reminds me of the story of the last days of Imperial Rome.

Anyway, here's to Mark Warner for addressing a problem worth addressing. We need more immigrants.**

* Obvious evidence that we need to pour another few hundred billion into that education rat hole.
** Just not the uneducated, unskilled ones from Mexico.