NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 23, 2008

When it comes to immigration, America's politicians are trying their best to keep the world's best and brightest from darkening America's doors, says the Economist.

Consider the annual April Fool's joke played on applicants for H1B visas, which allow companies to sponsor highly-educated foreigners to work in America for three years or so:

  • The powers-that-be have set the number of visas so low -- at 85,000 -- that the annual allotment is taken up as soon as applications open on April 1st.
  • America then deals with the mismatch between supply and demand in the worst possible way, allocating the visas by lottery.
  • The result is that hundreds of thousands of highly qualified people -- entrepreneurs who want to start companies, doctors who want to save lives, scientists who want to explore the frontiers of knowledge -- are kept waiting on the spin of a roulette wheel.

This is a policy of national self-sabotage, says the Economist:

  • America thrives by attracting talent from around the world.
  • Some 70 or so of the 300 Americans who have won Nobel prizes since 1901 were immigrants.
  • Great American companies such as Sun Microsystems, Intel and Google had immigrants among their founders.

These bright foreigners bring benefits to the whole of society:

  • The foreigner-friendly IT sector has accounted for more than half of America's overall productivity growth since 1995.
  • Foreigner-friendly universities and hospitals have been responsible for saving countless American cities from collapse.
  • Bill Gates calculates, and respectable economists agree, that every foreigner who is given an H1B visa creates jobs for five regular Americans.

Source: "Help Not Wanted," The Economist, April 10, 2008.

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