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.
I've commented on this before. Green cards reform makes a lot more sense than using H-1B permits, which are subject to abuse, and the end result is engineers, trained in US industries, leaving the country. Of course H-1B usually ends up as a stepping stone to a green card. Why not just reform the green card program in the first place?
It seems like the hardest way to become a US citizen is to do it the legal way and have a college degree and useful skills.
Bad idea: employers are getting way too picky. They want the exact profiles while unemployed and/or older engineers have a broad enough education to adapt to new positions.
Intel just lobby the government to increase supply in order to lower the pay. Why not other industries? Doctors make so much money because they limit supply with boards etc.
At least the lottery does not discriminate engineers vs others.
As long as the US maintains its lead in cutting edge deveopment, we will always have the best engineers wanting to come here.
Once we lose that edge, you wont be able to give these Visa's away.
Face it, employers need the best engineers when they need them. The days of hiring promising applicants and brining them up inside the company died when engineers began company hopping for the best pay.
Both sides lost.
Every country should have the right, and even the obligation, of controlling immigration, so that they can attract the type of immigrant that best meets that country's needs. This seems like such an approach.
I find it odd to be debating this, i.e. whether we should attract people with skills that practically define what the US is, while politicians are spending infinitely more energy trying to come up with more and more creative ways to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. This debate seems almost like a side issue, to keep people distracted. Politicians know what will get them votes, for their own short-term interests. I'm sure this is very low on their to-do list. No votes there.
This is interesting. I "entered" the game quite a while after you could join a company and feel like you were there for life. The day I started my first job out of school, I was operating under the assumption that I was only there until I wasn't, you know what I mean?
I think this IS seriously bad for companies. I never work for the best of my company, I work to make sure I'm building my resume for my next job. Is that what an employer wants? But yet, it's what they compel me to do by essentially keeping employees until the stock goes down and then bringing out the hatchets.
Those who got STEM degree in general have analytic capability and they are not very easy to be fooled, which is the last thing the regular politicians want the regular citizen (voter) to be.
If I were a politician, I don't want to grant the GreenCards to the STEM guys. I would rather give them to the amnesty and illegal immigrants to buy some votes. In such a game, because of this interest contradiction, I don't think the debate will do anything good to the STEM guys.
Limiting immigration to those with STEM degrees is rotten foreign policy, and not very good farm policy. When the best and brightest emigrate from South and Central America and from Southeast Asia they not only contribute to the brain drain from these areas, but also bring with them resources in the form of years of education. These countries have economic problems caused by this resource loss. South and Central America are supposed to be spheres of influence of the United States, yet I have always had trouble understanding why they are so poor, and we have done little more than periodically invade. The British established honest government in India, brought order, and built industries that competed with England's. In Africa they dug ports, built railroads, and constructed a system of roads and other infrastructure. What is the US doing other than drain foreign countries of their resources?
It is a fact that the American poor, regardless of skin color, are not often successful in American public schools. Blaming the lower socio-economic class for not being able to cope with middle-class schools really is "blaming the victim." I saw a Black woman in the check-out line at Kmart recently; she was staring at a box holding a new portable computer on her shopping cart, presumably for her child, and caressing it with her fingers. Does anyone doubt that she was hoping that the computer was going to be the silver bullet that allowed her child to be successful in school, go to college, and lead a productive and useful life? Yet statistically speaking, if the child is male he has an equal chance of going to prison instead, never holding more than a day-labor job, and never marrying. The IEEE has researched the production of successful engineers. Why can't we use that knowledge to help people at home who literally don't know how to be successful rather than drain our allies of their resources?
That's an interesting argument for the return to a colonial power model.
You are arguing that allowing STEM immigrants in with open arms creates a brain drain for other countries (which, by the way, can always compete to keep their STEM people at home, and some do - like Brazil). And that this will take away STEM job opportunities from these theoretical US citizens who could be coerced into a STEM education, that they don't seem to want.
But a much more probable state of affairs is that allowing uncontrolled immigration of relatively unskilled labor is taking a lot more likely work away from these same disadvantaged kids.
The measure of effectiveness (MOE) for a politician is to get votes. Doesn't matter if his policies are good or bad, right or wrong. I'm simply suggesting, pushing for work permits for STEM immigrants is not where the votes will come from. It's a make-believe debate.
I think there is a global war for talent out there.
Companies play it across borders. I suspect countries play it too as they invest in universities, etc.
The U.S. has clearly let education, especially a STEM ed, slide as a cultural value. Culturally we tease geeks and nerds and many kids grow up looking for a softer, easier path to a career that doesn't involve calculus...I did!
So the U.S. has to play catch up in STEM for awhile.
we want to get the best. we do not care e they come from. Smart, hardworking people are asset.. This is what we are and this what we should do...
I hate to see tp Ph.Ds from US. School do not have oppertunity to work in US. That is simple plain not good...If you cannot kepp them why even educatthem here (just to get their school fees...)
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.