Posts Tagged ‘immigration reform’

President Obama Poses the Wrong Case for Immigration Reform

January 30, 2013

I was listening to the Rachael Maddow show on MSNBC the other evening. She was playing the President’s speeches on immigration reform from May, 2011 and from earlier this month – they were almost the same – almost word for word. The President is pitching the wrong case for immigration reform, though.

The President ponders – (paraphrasing) “what if the next Google or Intel is not founded here by an immigrant – what if the next Google or Intel is founded in another country because of our immigration policy?” Throughout his speech – before and following this “wonderment”, the President is primarily discussing the undocumented worker. The founders of these tech companies were not undocumented – this is wrong parallelism to cite…

The issue is this, and it was correctly captured by Bill Gates in an interview from the Davos World Economic Forum on CNN today: US immigration policy today tends to drive immigrants educated in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) out of the country. Many of these valuable people must leave the US and contribute to other countries’ economies instead of being welcome to remain in the US to contribute to our economy here – that’s the impact of the current immigration policy, and it must change.

My own company can testify to this problem. Last year, I was unable to afford to assist an Indian employee to stay here in the US to continue to work at my company. I could not work with my attorneys to convert an F1 visa that had been extended with an OPT extension into an H1B or E1 visa in the timeframe allowed. I had to let this Ph. D. employee go at the expiration of her OPT. She was fortunate (we all are fortunate) and remains here in the US working legally at a nearby university.

The priority case for immigration reform is to let skilled people stay here with a minimum of administrative burden on the person or the employer so that our economy benefits. The political debate mires this rational priority with the dilemma of how to address the issue of the undocumented worker.

None of the immigrant of funders of Google, Intel and many other tech firms here in the US that the President refers to in context were undocumented. All of these immigrant corporate founders are valuable to our economy, and we need more of the likes of them!

How to handle the undocumented worker? Well, I really don’t know the best answer to that, but it is not the most important consideration – it is just the most highlighted political consideration that is getting in the way of addressing the more significant elements of reform.

My humble opinion.