Who Needs A High Tech Industry?

There’s a lot of political anger associated with the recent immigration debate. But with all the attention paid to unskilled immigrants from Mexico and the rest of Latin American, most people ignore the large number of highly skilled and educated workers who are also trying to work in the United States.

Engineers, computer scientists, and other scientists undeniably help the U.S. economy. About 25 percent of the technology and engineering companies launched in the past decade had at least one foreign-born founder.

H-1B visas, three year work visas which companies use to sponsor foreign workers, are limited to only 65,000 per year. These visas are also the most sought after by foreign skilled laborers. In April 2007, the first day that companies could apply for such visas, the government was swamped by 133,000 applications!

If the U.S. government wants a thriving technology industry to expand, it must grant many more H-1B visas to foreign skilled labor. The Lou Dobbs’s of the world simultaneously decry U.S. losses to competition yet want to restrict the flow of all highly skilled people into the United States. I guess protecting the jobs of a few steel workers is worth sacrificing the high tech industry. Too bad Mr. Dobbs wasn’t President 100 years ago . . . we’d still be using the horse and buggy if he had his way.