The last time I was at the airport in New York City's JFK, I was standing in a chaotic line to check my baggage. There was a wide variety of languages spoken and skin colors around me, then an old lady standing in front of me turns to me and says:
"What is going to happen to this country, my beautiful country, if we keep letting so many people in? There will be a scarcity of food and water!"
To which I replied:
"The country will be richer than ever Miss, because a lot of these people, like me, are very very smart and they will help solve all of America's problems."
She looked at me, trying to find "foreigner" features in my face and simply said "I hope so."
H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The quota in the year 2000 was 195,000. Today it is only 65,000 with an additional 20,000 for foreign workers with advanced degrees obtained in the United States (like me!!! somebody give me a job plz!!1!). Within the 65K there are a few slots reserved especially for countries with which the US has special agreements, like Chile and Singapore. These exclusive slots go back to the general pool when not filled. There are an extra few thousand reserved for Australian citizens [paraphrased from Wikipedia's "H-1B" entry].
A discussion was sparked recently between some of the youngest brightest minds I happen to know. It started on the topic that financial institutions who accepted bail-out money are not allowed to hire foreign workers for a period of 2 years. Something many people would consider "profoundly un-American" and which could make industry not only fall far behind foreign competitors, but also may provoke retaliation against U. S. foreign nationals abroad.
I wanted to share this bit that was sent to me by Casey Lindbeck from Chicago, whom with I agree with very much:
I think this is one of the stupidest things America can do in terms of creating any type of competitive advantage for the country. I cannot understand how it is logical to attract the brightest and most intelligent students from around the world to be educated at our universities and then immediately require them to leave the country.
I stole this from a blog, but it basically sums up the way I feel:
"The USA, hands down, has the best science education system in the world. As such, a large and growing percentage of advanced science degree's are earned by foreigners. Not just any foreigners either, but the smartest, most innovative foreigners. Logic might say, "hey, if we educate them here in this country, we may want require them to stay for a period of time to work to add value to our economy". We have the opportunity to attract and retain the best and brightest in the world! Instead, current H1B Visa policies makes it very difficult for them to stay and we send them home. Yes, we educate them and send them home. As manufacturing moves overseas, our biggest advantage in the world is our ability to out-innovate our competition. USA educated foreigners that want to stay to work should be able to - period, end of sentence."
Another excellent point, this one from Costi Yannelis in France:
"Well H1-B is a shitty system due to the fact that it is a lottery, and so a Bulgarian model competes for the same visa [and has the same chances] as an Indian software engineer ... We should move to a points based system like Canada [or Australia] rather than having a lottery, which stops many skilled workers from entering the country."
From now on I will try to keep an eye out on what we can do as far voting for propositions, delegates and candidates; and will make a point to share it through this medium.