Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why does the U.S. government halt skilled immigration?

Halting skilled immigration while tolerating millions of Hispanics who can barely speak English makes no sense at all

Just two months after the government started accepting applications, next year's highly skilled worker visas hit the numerical cap. No firm will be now able to apply to sponsor highly skilled foreign workers. Foreign high skilled workers neither "take" American jobs nor do they lower American wages. The low numerical cap, along with other regulations and visa fees, need to go, if the American economy is to grow.

The H-1B visa is a three year, employer-sponsored work visa, renewable one time, for highly skilled foreign workers. Only 85, 000 such visas are issued annually to private firms.

Most H-1B workers specialize in fields demanded by the technology sector, a major source of innovation in the American economy. In May 2012, the unemployment rate for engineers was 5 percent, well below the national average of about 8 percent. There is an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent in computer or mathematical occupations and a 1.9 percent unemployment rate for science workers. H-1B and highly skilled workers fill those niche professions.

Foreign highly skilled workers do not "take" American jobs because the economy doesn't have a set number of jobs. Highly skilled foreign workers create many of the firms that make America a center of technological innovation. Highly skilled foreign born workers and immigrants were instrumental in the founding of Intel, Sanmina-SCI, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Yahoo and Google, firms which have produced billions of dollars in value and employ thousands of Americans in skilled positions.

Foreign skilled workers do not lower American wages. Immigrants in general do not directly compete with Americans, but instead complement them by bringing in different skills and ability. Highly skilled foreign workers have skills that few Americans possess and are greatly demanded by American firms.

Wages aren't affected much by H-1Bs because firms hire them as they expand, so the H-1B cap is a limit on expansion rather than a protection of American wages. If the goal of the H-1B was to lower wages, American firms would apply for more of them as a cost saving measure when profits are low and the economy is sour. But H-1B applications pour in when business and the economy are improving. H-1B application patterns show that their goal is not to lower wages.

More than half of all startups in Silicon Valley were started by immigrants, many of them Indians and Chinese who have been living here for over a decade. The government cannot tell who will be a successful entrepreneur, but the evidence is clear that immigrants — especially the highly skilled — are prone to creating businesses. Many H-1B workers apply for green cards while working here, eventually becoming Americans.

The benefits of highly skilled immigration don't end with the immigrant though. Their children have a remarkable propensity to succeed.

The 2012 winner of the National Spelling Bee was Snigdha Nandipati from San Diego, California. She became the fifth consecutive American of Indian descent to win the contest and the 10th in the last 14 years. Her parents emigrated from India, a major source of skilled foreign immigrants and workers.

Her father, Kirshnarao Nandipati, used his skill as a software engineer to help train his daughter because, as he said after her win, "My English is so weak that I cannot train her. I had to look into finding information of how to prepare her. I am a software engineer. I wrote a program for her that pulls information from the dictionary."

Spelling bees aren't the only academic competitions where the children of highly skilled immigrants excel. According to Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy, 28 of the 40 finalists of the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search Competition, known as the "Junior Nobel Prize," have at least one immigrant parent. Twenty-four of those parents originally came to the U.S. with H1-B visas.

H-1Bs are not perfect and there are several ways to improve them, including removing or expanding the cap as well as the time limit, slashing fees, and eliminating the need for employer sponsorship.

Cutting ourselves off from foreign highly skilled workers makes all of us poorer. America's strengths of relative free markets, contract, and property rights attract immigrants and skilled foreign workers because they can produce more here and make higher wages than in their home countries. For all of our sakes, we should let them come unhindered.


Hundreds have broken out of Australia's immigration detention centres

ELECTRIC fences, razor wire and security guards are no barrier to breakouts from Australia's Immigration detention centres.  Hundreds of visa over-stayers and asylum seekers have scaled fences, fled on day release programs or simply vanished after being released into the community on bridging visas.

For the first time, the Sunday Herald Sun can reveal 524 people have escaped Immigration detention in the past decade. Nearly one-third - 154 - remain on the run from authorities.

The Department of Immigration also revealed that 11 asylum seekers released into the community on bridging visas since November have absconded in breach of reporting requirements.

But this is only a fraction of the 4052 people approved for community detention since the program was expanded two years ago.

Refugee Action Collective spokesman Ian Rintoul said the escapees were desperate and often sustained injuries while doing a runner.

"They have anti-climb fences with sheer cladding so they end up with cuts from the barbed wire and injuries if they have to jump from the fences. People do get electric shocks," he said.

"They are fearful of being deported. The detention centres are hellholes."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said that, while escapes were "rare", the private company that ran immigration detention in Australia had incurred million-dollar fines in the past.

"Escapes from detention, and especially from community detention, are very rare," he said.

A spokesman added: "Nonetheless, we take any escape from detention extremely seriously."

The new figures confirm the vast majority of escapes were from traditional detention centres.

Of 98 in 2010-11, only one person was from community detention and had since been found.

Last month, Immigration official Kate Pope told Budget estimates that 13 clients had absconded from community detention since October 2010.

"Eleven are Vietnamese, of whom two claimed to be adults and were living in Victoria at the time ... nine claimed to be unaccompanied minors," she said.

"Of those, eight absconded from community detention in Victoria and one in Western Australia. Six of those Vietnamese have been relocated. Four claimed to the unaccompanied minors, all now identified as adults, two of whom are in custody pending court appearances."

In February, three Vietnamese asylum seekers fled over a northern immigration detention centre fence in Darwin at 4.06am.

Last year, authorities foiled a suspected mass breakout of almost 20 inmates at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney.

The department said the one Malaysian and 16 Chinese nationals had overstayed their visas and were not asylum seekers.

Two years ago, 10 inmates climbed a fence at low-security Inverbrackie Detention Centre to pick fruit.

Since the Rudd-Gillard Government was elected in 2007, 18,949 asylum seekers have arrived on 329 boats - 12,397 on 189 boats since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister in 2010.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said alleged people smuggler Captain Emad recently being allowed to flee the country was a further sign the system was a mess under Labor.

"Increasing numbers of escapes are the result of a system under stress, created by the unprecedented failure of Labor on our borders," he said.


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