WSJ on Skilled Immigrants

By May 30, 2007General

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page considers the immigration reform bill’s provisions concerning skilled immigrants and finds them lacking. From The Legal Visa Crunch:

U.S. businesses aren’t looking for skilled workers in general; they’re looking for people with specific skills. And in the high-tech industry especially, where the demand for new products and services is constantly changing, employers need the flexibility to fill critical positions as quickly as possible. The last thing Hewlett-Packard or Texas Instruments needs is uncertainty about whether the workers they want to hire will pass some bureaucratic point test. If the Senate wants the U.S. to keep attracting the world’s best and brightest, this bill is an odd way of showing it.

And, given the facts, the conclusion:

Immigration policies should acknowledge that the U.S. is not producing enough home-grown computer scientists, mathematicians and engineers to fill our labor needs. Last year, U.S. universities awarded more than half of their master’s degrees and 71% of their Ph.D.s in electrical engineering to foreign nationals. It’s foolhardy to educate these individuals and then effectively expel them so that they can put their human capital to work for U.S. competitors. There’s no shortage of countries that would be thrilled to benefit from a U.S. brain drain.

The best way to keep that from happening is by raising the quotas for employment-based visas and green cards to realistic levels consistent with market demand, and by allowing U.S. firms to make their own decisions about which workers are best suited to fill their labor needs.