Musings on Immigration

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Where, O Where Have My High Skilled Immigrants Gone?


Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation released a study today that indicates placing limits on foreign workers in the U.S. is not the answer to the country’s rising unemployment rate and may undermine efforts to spur technological innovation. You have to ask yourself, “Is anyone surprised by this?” I mean come on. What kind of person actually believes that by STOPPING advanced degreed university graduates from coming to the United States the United States will be better off? I mean, besides the folks in Congress!

The study by Harvard professor Vivek Wadhwa titled America’s loss is the world’s gain: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part IV, researchers surveyed highly skilled immigrants who had studied and/or worked in the United States and subsequently returned to their home countries.

“A substantial number of highly skilled immigrants have started returning to their home countries in recent years, draining a key source of brain power and innovation,” said Robert E. Litan, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “We wanted to know what is encouraging this much-needed growth engine to leave our country, thereby sending entrepreneurship and economic stimulus to places like Bangalore and Beijing.”

The study found that “Immigrants historically have provided one of America’s greatest competitive advantages. Between 1990 and 2007, the proportion of immigrants in the U.S. labor force increased from 9.3 percent to 15.7 percent, and a large and growing proportion of immigrants bring high levels of education and skill to the United States. Immigrants have contributed disproportionately in the most dynamic part of the U.S. economy—the high-tech sector—co-founding firms such as Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. In addition, immigrant inventors contributed to more than a quarter of U.S. global patent applications. Immigrant-founded U.S.-based companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52 billion in revenue in 2006.”

Come on Congress, lets get out heads out of the sand, stop playing games with who is to blame in this economic crisis and THINK your way out of it. Expanding U.S. employers’ ability to bring in the best and brightest from around the world, AND treating this talent as they should be treated, will go a long way to fixing our economic malaise.

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