SAN JOSE, Calif. – Immigration is poised to be the big political issue of 2013, and it’s time engineers weigh in on it.
I know, it seems premature to be calling for a debate about what’s likely to be next year’s big congressional issue. Florida has barely finished counting its ballots from the presidential elections. Most of us are still picking Thanksgiving turkey out of our teeth, and legislators have yet to decide in which direction we will go rolling off the fiscal cliff.
That didn’t stop the IEEE-USA from chiming in on the issue. In a 28-page report released Tuesday (Nov. 26) it argued the current system using a lottery geared to opening the door to a diverse set of nations has outlived its purpose. In its place, the U.S. should make the possession of a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree the key criteria, it suggested.
“The data indicates that swapping the visa lottery for STEM green cards will not diminish the diversity of America’s immigration sources,” the IEEE-USA wrote. “By prioritizing skills it will create and keep jobs in the US,” it said.
The report is timed to give a boost to Republican-sponsored bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. That bill would replace the current lottery system for 55,000 immigration visas with one based on STEM degrees.
I suspect management in the electronics industry will hail the report. When he was CEO of Intel, Craig Barrett used to say a green card ought to get stapled to every STEM degree from a U.S. university.
I assume engineers seeking green cards will support a plan that would put them at the head of the line. Those out of a job or worried about their job security may see such a bill as a threat. But is there a more nuanced debate EEs ought to be having now?
A significant percentage of minority voters in the recent presidential election cast their ballots overwhelmingly for the Democratic ticket. Their votes shifted the debate from whether to how to enact immigration reform.
So like it or not, it’s time to start a thoughtful discussion of the very real complexities of the issues. The IEE-USA decided the place to begin is with a proposal that a technical degree become the key to getting a U.S. green card.
IEEE USA runs to it's real Customer the CEO not the Engineer. Business wants cheap people and that is it. The presentation is the sale and propaganda. The hook is the imported slave labor is in the USA ? F(Green card) = F(H1B) = Lower US Wage. Hey if A=B then A must be better than B. Not.
Yes, getting away from HB-1's and simply letting more of the world's talent stay in the US would be a good move. H1-B's are apparently open to abuses, though I've not witnessed them first hand, and are too restricted both in terms of freedom to change companies etc. for the worker in quantity. The present system is terribly imbalanced to the point where many qualified graduates with MSEEs and PhDs can't stay in the country after getting a good engineering education here. I have attempted to deal with that when hiring, and it's real shame. These folks go on to benefit other countries instead.
We also need to recognize that the economy is not a zero-sum game. Having more talent in the US is good for everyone here. More companies will expand here, and many of the creative, talented people we allow to stay in the US will create new enterprises.
I think some basics need to be made clear:
This bill is -not- about H-1B visas. It is about green cards.
I mentioned H-1B visas in the first comment because I think this bill is a better approach than H-1B visas. Bring people in a tax-paying, US citizens, rather as temporary immigrants to be educated, trained, (abused), then discarded.
This bill does -not- increase the number of green-cards issued. It reduces the number of 'diversity' green cards, and moves them over to engineers who want to become US citizens.
What, you may ask, are 'diversity' green cards and why do the exist? I leave you these questions as a homework assignment. Note that I'm still scratching my head over the second question.