The Brain Drain: US Is Losing Immigrants Who Create The Jobs We Need

from the very-dangerous-situation dept

Discussing immigration policy around here is something of a “third rail” item. No matter how many times we explain the importance of bringing smart, educated immigrants into the US, we end up getting a long stream of ignorant comments from people who mistakenly claim that these foreign workers “steal jobs.” This is not true. In fact, the opposite is true. Jobs are not a zero sum game. A smart, highly skilled worker helps create new jobs. And… if we hinder them from getting jobs in this country, they end up going to (or staying in) another country, where they compete with American companies, often causing a much greater job loss, as business moves to that foreign company rather than the American company. And yet too many people who can’t see past the first move in the chain of events insist that bringing highly skilled foreigners into this country is bad.

Well, they should celebrate, because a growing number of those highly skilled foreigners are going back to their home countries from the US. Despite the fact that these are the folks most likely to create jobs by making companies more successful and starting their own companies, some seem to think it’s a good thing that these folks are, instead, creating those jobs and those successful companies elsewhere. If they thought about it, they would realize that by keeping these highly skilled individuals out (or pushing them to leave when they’re here) that we’re actually destroying American jobs. We’re encouraging job creation to happen elsewhere rather than in the US, just because some short-sighted individuals think only about a single job opening, rather than about how job creation and economic growth occurs.

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Comments on “The Brain Drain: US Is Losing Immigrants Who Create The Jobs We Need”

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Anonymous Coward says:

No one cares about immigrants who come here legally staying here. No one cares about the honest person who comes here for work, is willing to work and abide by our rules. Stop building strawmen saying people are against all immigration. You talk about the skilled workers that are here but ignore the majority of illegal immigrants, those with no skills and no job.

Why are these folks leaving? According to the article it is because “Returnees cited language barriers, missing their family and friends at home, difficulty with cultural assimilation, and care of parents and children as key issues. About a third of the Indians and a fifth of the Chinese said that visas were a strong factor in their decision to return home, but others left for opportunity and to be close to family and friends. And it wasn’t just new immigrants who were returning. In fact, 30% of respondents held permanent resident status or were U.S. citizens.”

So, whats your point? Visa problems doesn’t seem to be the major factor in their leaving. What would you have us do?

jonnyq says:

Re: first poster

You’re right on this one, and Mike’s off base. Mike built a strawman to knock down and used a couple bare assertions to do so. No wonder it’s a “third rail” target – those who disagree are mischaracterized.

The “they took our jobs” crowd are talking about illegal immigration (and there’s really no sense in talking about that in this post). This article is about legal immigration. Who’s claiming that legal immigrants are stealing jobs? Who’s coming out opposed to streamlining the legal immigration process? Who ever claimed that legal, skilled immigrants don’t improve the economy?

If I understand the problem stated in the article, the solution is to lower taxes and regulations to create an environment where more companies want to hire here. People are going back home because more jobs open up there. More jobs open up there because we’ve scared those jobs away from here.

So Mike sounds right on principle, but wrong in characterization of the argument.

josh says:

Re: Re:

This story also fails to mention that the majority of “educated immigrants” come here for training and then leave to compete with American workers from their home countries. They do not all “build” company’s in India or China. They work for US companies with operations in India and China. See the Business Week article “H-1Bs: Tighter U.S. Oversight” , it actually sites facts, something Masnick’s article is lacking.

Ferruccio Fortini (profile) says:

Re: nativists DO care about (against) ALL immigrants, honest or not

You claim “No one cares about the honest person who comes here for work, is willing to work and abide by our rules” — and it’s easy to show how wrong you are. For example, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Microsoft to lay off, preferentially, H1B-holding “honest persons who came here for work” &c — he doesn’t care one whit about their honesty, of course!, he cares about the fact that they can’t vote for or against him, while US Citizens (whether honest or not, as long as they’re not convicted of felonies) DO have the vote. Similarly, institutions getting stimulus money can’t hire H1B workers, etc, etc.

Having originally come to this great country with a H1B, I’m very aware of the naked hatred that the nativists always target against ALL immigrants, quite apart from the latter’s honesty &c. Until and unless you’ve been targeted by anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night threatening you with bodily harm for daring to be an immigrant and calling you “dago” or worse, I don’t think you’re as qualified as somebody who has.

Anonymous Coward says:

Where is your proof?

You generally deride others for making arguments without offering any proof, yet you’ve done exactly that: “A smart, highly skilled worker helps create new jobs.” Where are the facts to back up that claim? Or is it just your speculation that foreign workers are “the folks most likely to create jobs by making companies more successful and starting their own companies?” Are you also saying that foreign workers are MORE LIKELY to make the companies they work for more successful than equally qualified Americans? And that those foreign workers are also more likely to form their own companies than are American workers? Again, where’s your proof? Why aren’t all of the new companies in the US founded by foreigners, if your argument actually holds water?

I think you need to find some convincing evidence to back these claims. So far, all you’ve offered is your opinion, and we all know what opinions are worth.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Where is your proof?

You generally deride others for making arguments without offering any proof, yet you’ve done exactly that: “A smart, highly skilled worker helps create new jobs.” Where are the facts to back up that claim?

The article had stats on that, including just how many silicon valley companies are started by immigrants. I assume people are smart enough to recognize that a blue word is a link where they can click to get more info.

Are you also saying that foreign workers are MORE LIKELY to make the companies they work for more successful than equally qualified Americans?

No. Not *equally* qualified. But the problem is when we push out more highly qualified foreigners in favor of less skilled Americans.

Man from Atlanta says:

Re: Broken logic

Hardly broken logic. I’ll provide an analogy. Bear Bryant who years ago coached the dominant Crimson Tide football team, used to maintain a far bigger team than he needed. Not so much that he needed extra depth, but he was able to prevent good players from playing for other teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if other big programs did the same. Limits to team size put an end to that, but it is instructive: if you look at jobs as a zero sum game, it behooves you to stockpile the best and brightest.

Anonymous Coward says:

@ where is your proof?

The fact is that Americans significantly lag behind in science, math, engineering, and medical education. We prefer “easy” majors and “easy” money. So yes, foreigners are much more likely to develop new technologies and start innovative (non-service) companies that will create jobs and lead America forward. If you look at the past, many of our greatest minds were not American: Einstein, von Braun, Tesla, Brin, etc. That is not to say we are all not capable of it, it’s just there is much stronger education outside of the United States in the sciences and we should take advantage of that instead of blocking it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: @ where is your proof?

The fact is that Americans significantly lag behind in science, math, engineering, and medical education.

That may be fact, but it doesn’t support the argument. There is no cause-and-effect. Plenty of poorly-educated people have started successful businesses. Ever heard of Wendy’s? Ever heard of Microsoft?

We prefer “easy” majors and “easy” money.

Maybe that’s true for you, but otherwise it’s merely your opinion, not fact.

So yes, foreigners are much more likely to develop new technologies and start innovative (non-service) companies that will create jobs and lead America forward.

Again, opinion, based on your previous opinion. So this is true only if we accept your opinion as true.

Do we need to look up the definition of “fact?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: @ where is your proof?

You are right, those are my opinions, but they are from years of experience living in the US and overseas both working and attending educational institutions, I never stated they were facts. I myself most definitely did not pursue the “easy” money route. Wendy’s might may have been started by a poorly-educated entrepreneur but it provides only menial jobs to the US, that and unhealthy food. Not exactly revolutionary. Bill Gates on the other hand does not fit in the poorly-educated category. Just because he chose not to finish Harvard, he was a very intelligent and very educated man. An exception, not the rule. But I appreciate your opinions.

Ferruccio Fortini (profile) says:

Re: Re: @ where is your proof?

“Wiht all due respect to Google punks I would not put them on the same line with Einstein and Tesla” — but in terms of creating jobs, those “punks” were in fact WAY ABOVE the geniuses you mention. As the article Mike links to point out, immigrants were founders of companies currently providing over half the jobs in Silicon valley — not just Google, but also intel, eBay, Yahoo, etc, etc.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: @ where is your proof?

As the article Mike links to point out, immigrants were founders of companies currently providing over half the jobs in Silicon valley — not just Google, but also intel, eBay, Yahoo, etc, etc.

It’s also worth pointing out that angry dude makes his money from the gov’t (yes, we tax payers are paying his salary), and he’s working hard to try to sue the companies that created jobs.

Go angry dude…

angry dude says:

MIkey's BS

Apparently Mike does not understand the difference between a legal immigrant and a temporary worker on H1B visa…

H1B dudes are a lot like slaves, they canl;t even go from one company to another, much less to start their own business
If tech corps and their stooges in congress want those dudes here so much, they should give them greencards right away
But they are not gonna do it and you know why..
Cause slaves are cheaper and easier to exploit

Come on punks

go read some other forums to get a true picture

Mikey’s blog is shit

Bobby McDoogle says:

Foreigners take americans jobs

We used to live in a country where americans did american jobs, but now chinese and mexico are doing our jobs, which is why unemployment is so high. if we really wanted to keep Americans working then stop letting all of these foreigners steal our jobs. they will work for nickles to a doller and dont care about health and if so they go use up our emergency room, makes it close because they run out of money.

i am not a racialst but they have there own country, we have our own country, lets keep it that way to keep Americas strong!

Peter Thomas says:

Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

Did you actually READ the article, or just spewed out your typical ignorant knee-jerk reaction when you saw the words “foreign workers”?

BTW, you may not actually know this, but sometimes American people go to countries outside of America, and work over there. Will you raise a concern about “job stealing” there, or is that okay by your bigoted standards?

Man from Atlanta says:

Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

Sounds like an excellent argument to stop thinking of Chinese and Mexicans as “they” and get busy bringing them to our shores and assimilating them. Why is America strong? Because it didn’t exclude the chinese, the italians, the irish, the dutch, etc. . . .

Man from Atlanta says:

Re: Re: Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

What is “enough?” Do we have enough WASPs? Enough African Americans?

One of the things America is about is that EVERYONE has the inalienable right to the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Why not tell us which mexican is excluded from the human race because you find him or her to be “too much?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

illegal immigrants usually do the jobs that american teenages would do during a summer break.

when was the last time you saw a mexican who doesnt speak much english run a company?

Unites States was built on immigrant skills and strength, people used to come here to stay and become part of this society, by doing everything to assimilate themselves into this society, including learning the language.

now they come here because its easier to survive here,

problem is that they dont pay into ss, pay no taxes, yet they use all of our resources such as schooling and healthcare

Immigration is good, but it should be controlled

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

To bring your argument to its logical conclusion… People who immigrate here to the USA have no incentive to assimilate to this culture, to learn the language and plant roots down here. Why you ask? Because of “multiculturalism”. We’re supposed to celebrate the fact that you’re from Mexico or China or some European country. You see, because its the leftists in this country who hate America and everything American and see anything that is foreign as vastly superior. It’s all about world view and Politics.

Brad says:

Re: Re: Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

Funny, I consider myself quite “left”, but I love America and think that it is superior in many ways. There are plenty of Americans I can’t stand, but that’s a whole different argument.

I realize many people who see all politics (indeed, all human discourse) as “Us vs. Them” tend to lump all people who don’t immediately support them as “enemies”, and while this may have served some critical survival skill in the past, it is no longer necessary and needs to stop.

I do find it entertaining that you believe people who move here are obligated to become like…well…you. To be closed-minded and bigoted, angry and isolated. They should all settle in some quiet street in suburbia and never talk to their neighbors, right? God forbid they have any pride in their heritage, their national origin, or their language. Their upbringing, in another country, gave them the courage to seek out a better future and begin a life in another country, not merely sequester themselves in their birthplace, pissing and moaning about any kind of change.

Can we just trade people like that for people like you?

Grae says:

Re: Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

illegal immigrants usually do the jobs that american teenages would do during a summer break.

This idea was tested by a radio show who had a guest that offered a job cleaning horse stables for the summer at $1,500/week (yes, you read that right), but only if the applicant was a high school student seeking work.

The only response was a mother who asked if she could get her son the job.

The fact is, American teenagers are not willing to do the type of work that illegal immigrants are willing to do. Good or bad, I’ll leave that to others to debate.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

Generally, when someone has to say “I am not a racialst[sic],” it usually means they are, to an extreme. Like it or not, you sir, are a racist.

There is so much wrong with your arguments that it boggles the mind, but I am pretty sure you’re not the type who will listen, anyway.

Linda says:

Re: Foreigners take americans jobs

Could you specify at what point in american history did we have “a country where americans did american jobs” – ? I remember hearing about waves of immigrants (including, among others, chinese building railroads as early as the 1800s, followed by a succession of groups from all over the world). Could you point to a time when foreigners were not a substantial driving force in expanding our economy?

Big Picture says:

Now what

The larger issue here is, if we take the statement at face value and say we need to import these highly skilled workers because we aren’t producing them, then what do we do as a nation to change our educational system so that we no longer “significantly lag behind in science, math, engineering, and medical education” and begin producing our own highly skilled resources.

Hulser says:

Re: Now what

what do we do as a nation to change our educational system

I was thinking along the same lines. I can see the point about how immigrants/foreigners/H1-B visa holders can, on a larger scale, help the American economy. But where I see the problem is that instead of this being a stopgap measure, it’s viewed by many as a permanent solution to the problem.

Is it a good thing to get the best and brightest people from around the world to come to America to work? Sure. But wouldn’t it be even better to promote our own citizens to be the best and brightest?

I think where a lot of the rancor comes into play in these discussions is not the question of whether it’s ultimately beneficial for a smart foreigner to work in America, but whether it’s better for that smart foriegner to get the job of the equally smart American just because, say, the foriegner will work under more harsh conditions or for less pay.

Sure, xenophobia comes into play here, but I think it’s a mischaracterization to imply that the argument doesn’t include these other factors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Now what

We could start by getting our elected politicians to stop gutting education budgets every time things get tight. It seems that over and over, in every state, and at the federal level, one of the first budget items to get slashed in hard times (even in good times) is education. But then, as has been discussed on this blog and elsewhere, educated citizens are the enemies of politicians of every stripe. Sometimes I think the only way to reverse that is for schoolchildren to form their own PAC and hire lobbyists. It’s clear that politicians respond only to those interests with money to spread.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re: Now what

It’s not about budget. It’s about efficiency and quality of teaching staff. Already, it costs most states significantly more to put a child through public school than it does for a parent to put a child through private school. I am not arguing for vouchers. What I am arguing for is to run public schools more like any other business.

If a teacher sucks, fire him/her. No more tenure, which is the most ridiculous practice I have ever seen. To say, “now you’re guaranteed employment no matter how poorly you perform” is an invitation for failure. No more entitlement to extracurricular activities. If schools want to offer them, they should be paid for by dues, fund raisers, or scholarships, NOT by tax money. Last I checked, the Constitution guaranteed the right to an education, not the right to play football, play in an after-school band, or compete in a Science Bowl.

If a budget has to be trimmed, it has to be trimmed. If the money is not there, you can’t spend it. Since education is one of the largest line-item expenses for most states (nearly 50% of revenue here in Kansas), it is also going to be the most often cut. There’s no malice in it, just necessity.

It blows me away that every time education comes up, the first reaction is always “throw more money at it.” If schools are broken, more money just makes them broken AND expensive. Fix the underlying problems, and many of the budgetary ones will resolve themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Now what

Agreed. I was a little discouraged to hear that 50% of schools dropped civics, and American History classes because it’s not measured for “No Child Left Behind” funding. So many schools cut it, and don’t teach it. Net result: Only 30% of Americans can name the three branches of Government. Sandra Day O’Connor took things in her hands. See

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not a xenophobe and I’m not going to use the word “immigrant”. It’s all about H1-B visas. Look at Microsoft. They’re a huge US-based company. It’s nearly impossible for anyone to become an actual full-fledged Microsoft employee. That’s because Microsoft exploits the H1-B visa program, picking up highly trained temp staffing from around the world for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time American citizen employee. This effectively shuts out fully qualified American citizens from taking those jobs. Now that the economy has gone south, Microsoft, like many other companies, dumped all their H1-B temps, and sent ’em packing. That’s why they’re going home.

Aha says:

Re: H1-B and Microsoft

Ah, that finaly explains it. My experiences over the years of working with and around H1-B holders is that they are by no means highly-skilled professionals. Or if they are highly-skilled, their skills aren’t in the technical area needed to do the work they were hired for. You have to lead them by the hand, and even then, go clean up the messes they make of things.

So Microsoft gets all the smart H1-B holders, leaving all the other companies to suffer with the not-so-smart ones. Another aspect of their abuse of their monopoly position?

Ali says:


“If you look at the past, many of our greatest minds were not American: Einstein, von Braun, Tesla, Brin, etc.”

They weren’t H1-Bs, either, but already educated and recognized for their abilities (Einstein, von Braun, Tesla) or came here as children with their families (Brin). In short, the kind of guys who would qualify for O-visas in their own right, not need to be sponsored and indentured with the H1-B program.

Anonymous Coward says:

I'm an immigrant

It’s very strange and sad that their is always such a backlash against Mike when the topic of “foreigners” is discussed.

I’ve lived/worked/paid taxes in 4 different Countries now. I think I’ve above average in terms of IT technical skills but my attitude to succeed and and excel at my job always gets me a good position with a good salary.

I like to move Country to experience different ways of living and also because I want to compete, not in a nasty way but to see how I can measure my ability to do my job against others. This helps keep me motivated to continually improve myself and learn new skills.

I keep in touch with friends back home in the UK who moan about foreigners coming to the Country abut none of them can give me an example of someone who is doing the same job as them for less money. Most foreigners there either take low paid/unskilled jobs or well paid/highly skilled jobs.

If you really have a fear over your job then maybe you should think about raising you game? Isn’t that what a Capitalist-Democracy is all about? Or maybe you want to go live in a Communist Country where everyone gets a job no matter how low your ambition to succeed is?

Hulser says:

Re: I'm an immigrant

It seems like you have a really good attitude and would be a welcome member of an IT team. However, I’d like to ask a follow-up question…

If you really have a fear over your job then maybe you should think about raising you game?

What if you decided to go back to one of the other countries where you had worked in the past, only to find out that in the mean time the government had enacted a program to promote the graduation of highly-skilled IT-related college graduates and that, as a consequence, you couldn’t get a work permit because not as many foriegn workers were necessary? Would you consider this unfair, undemocratic, or xenophobic? Or just a natural tendency of a country to promote the welfare of its citizens?

As for “raising you[r] game”, I think you’re right. Personally, I think that America should do whatever is possible to make sure its own citizens can fulfil these needs and utilize foreign labor as a temporary means to fill in the inevitable gaps.

Ali says:

immigrant entrepreneurship

Evidence suggests that immigrants nowadays are no more “entrepreneurial” than Americans. Indeed, since many modern immigrants are from minorities, they benefit from set asides for minority businesses, yet STILL aren’t more entrepreneurial than the natives.

See also comments by and about Vivek Wadwha as posted by Norm Matloff:

Mr. Wadhwa and his associates found that immigrants were the chief
> # executives or chief technologists at one of every four technology and
> # engineering companies started in America from 1995 to 2005, and 52
> # percent of Silicon Valley start-ups.
> But more than 50% of Silicon Valley engineers are immigrants, so on a
> per-capita basis they aren’t any more entrepreneurial than the natives.
> If the natives hadn’t been displaced, the natives would have founded
> about the same number of companies. So no loss there.
> What about patents? Same issue here. Vivek has stated that his research
> on patenting, though showing lots of immigrant patents, did not find that
> immigrants have higher per-capita rates of patenting than natives (Industry
> Centers discussion list, January 4, 2007; there is also relevant information
> in (By the way, I still
> haven’t found a block of time needed to go through Prof. Kerr’s eight-page
> response to my critique of his study on immigrant patenting, but my
> university’s quarter break is coming soon, and I plan to read it
> carefully then.)
> MOST IMPORTANTLY, Vivek is missing what should be the most salient
> point. He says that the biggest factor motivating people to return home
> is job opportunities, which they find better back home than in the U.S.
> This is absolutely correct. But the reason WHY they see bleak job
> prospects in the U.S. is ISSUE D ABOVE; ironically, the very H-1B
> program that they enjoyed early in their careers will IMPEDE their
> ability to find work after age 35. (Note the example of Mr. Liu, a
> Chinese-American engineer from China in my report of a few days ago,

Rodney Gagnon (user link) says:

Re: immigrant entrepreneurship

Reid Hoffman’s Techcrunch article also speaks to the H-1B issue (excerpt below)

2. Abolish the limit on H-1B Visas. Remove the cap on H-1B visas and impose a 10 percent payroll tax beyond the benchmark salary for each visa. Then channel the proceeds from the payroll tax into US re-education programs.

This is a country founded on immigration. We should welcome the best and the brightest as our own. Abolish the H-1B cap, and give me an economic reason for preferring local. I’ll only do foreign if I need to. A 10 percent payroll tax for each H-1B visa can be reinvested in whatever it takes to get American talent up to the same level. This has been proposed previously, but a payroll tax ensures that H-1Bs are used for skilled labor, not cheap labor.

bikey (profile) says:


I think this is a good thing. These countries will profit handsomely and these people will have a better life. What does a bible-thumping nation intent on squeezing a profit out of everything that moves and much that doesn’t need with science anyway? Math? Please, what if they understood mortgage contracts? Science? What if they asked Monsanto why they don’t research the safety and effects of their products. The last thing we need is math and science. It’s (become) anti-American. Let other people do it. Good riddance I say.

Anonymous Coward says:

Native Americans

RE: Comment #2

“Why aren’t all of the new companies in the US founded by foreigners”

If you look, most companies aren’t started by native Americans (Indians). Seriously, look at the US history of first generation immigrant tenacity. Your forefathers had it…you…maybe not so much.

Crossing the Ocean used to be an act of bravery. It still involves huge sacrifice for opportunity. The mere act of emigrating (short of some famine or disaster in the native land) is an act that demonstrates gumption. Most Americans don’t have this will to sacrifice for opportunity – do half of us even complete our free high school?

Doc (profile) says:

American jobs

Simply, all of you have missed it. America stopped being a producer and became a consumer. When the producer names the tune the consumer has to dance it is that simple. Want America to be strong again, lets start making things here again. Not, in China, Mexico, Canada, Tiawan, or where ever else things get made. America once had a booming steel industry not anymore, America used to manufacture the best products in the world not any more. In fact, I don’t think we make anything in this nation any more. Other than a few gizmos sold in info-mercials.

Bottom line you want to have a job, then lets stop shipping jobs to other nations by the metric ton because “they” work cheaper. Lets start manufacturing things in this nation again. “Buy American” the Chevy, Ford etc say. But their cars are less American than most Honda’s.

Simply the point is this until the business leaders stop selling the nation out for a quick buck nothing is going to get better.

Brad says:

Re: American jobs

That’s odd…it was my experience that American workers (and their Union representatives) sold out the nation for a quick buck.

Let’s take a look at the steel industry, shall we? Sure, we did once have a booming Steel industry, when people were willing to work for less. Then there came about a Generation of Entitlement. These workers figured out that they could hold management’s feet to the fire and force them to operate on razor-thin margins. Lifetime pensions for 20 years of work. Enough money to buy a house and a boat and go on vacation every year, for someone who didn’t even finish high school.

American manufacturing rewarded stupidity, low-achievement, and the bullying of the minority by the majority. The only reason we made steel here is because we HAD to. Shipping it cost too much. As soon as there was a better option though, off those jobs went. Normally, there’d just be other workers who were willing to work for less, and they’d be your own countrymen. But not once the Unions got involved – all workers were the same, and new workers either had to be part of the Union, or were threatened (even killed) for daring to work for what they thought was fair.

I think what we need to do, as a nation, is push education to its limits. Every person who is willing should be given an education that makes them intellectually dominate workforce competitors from other countries. Sure, ship worthless jobs like pouring hot metal and sanding wood off to another country, and let us do what we do best: create value.

But that won’t happen, because the Generation of Entitlement gave birth to another generation, which now blames exterior forces for the fact that they can’t live a happy, wealthy life doing something that anyone on the planet with about 2 hours training could do.

Ali says:

Anonymous Coward wrote:”If you really have a fear over your job then maybe you should think about raising you game? Isn’t that what a Capitalist-Democracy is all about? Or maybe you want to go live in a Communist Country where everyone gets a job no matter how low your ambition to succeed is?”

It may shock you, but “immigration” is NOT supposed to be solely about getting the best economic opportunity, at least, not when it comes to immigration to the U.S. As a propositional nation, we rely heavily on immigrants coming to accept and embrace the values we live by. Capitalism is enabled by Democracy, but does not replace it. We want immigrants who take their roles as citizens seriously and aren’t willing to jump ship when the going gets rough, the way the Indian and Chinese immigrants described in this article are. Or the way you seem to be, in your pursuit of the best economic opportunity in whatever country will have you.

By the way, if you truly believe in Capitalism and free market economics, then you ALSO BELIEVE IN A FREE MARKET FOR LABOR. The H1-B program creates an indentured workforce because would-be immigrants are dependent on their employers for green cards and their continued stay in this country. Immigrant workers should either have a green card from the start, making them free to move to take the best deal, OR H1-B should be TRULY TEMPORARY, with workers required to return to their homelands. That way, they’d seek the best wages and benefits they could, while they could.

NullOp says:


Our jobs were shipped across the pond by the greedy bastards. In the .COM days, and before, a good, honest profit became not enough. Only ‘obscene’ profits would do. So to aid the bottom line Jobs were shipped to the third world where war lords, corrupt governments and outdated caste systems could keep workers broke and owners rolling-in-dough. Accountants could say “Wow, look how much we saved and therefore earned!” Bottom line is, never, but never let accountants make business decisions! Leave it to the REAL managers!

Ali says:

best and the brightest?

Hulser wrote:”Is it a good thing to get the best and brightest people from around the world to come to America to work? Sure. But wouldn’t it be even better to promote our own citizens to be the best and brightest?”

It’s been a long time since the H1-B program was limited to the “best and the brightest”. In fact, now, it’s more likely the “mediocre and mundane”, those with only a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and working as the lowest class of H1-B.

Those who are truly the “best and the brightest” don’t need H1-B. They can self-sponsor for O-visas.

Anthony says:

one example

I have a good friend who I met at the last place I worked. This guy is a smart and talented guy who makes obvious contributions to his company (and by extension to the US economy). His green card papers are being held up, mostly due to bureaucracy.

If he decides that it’s easier to just go to a different country (say, the UK) or even back home (Indian, of course), then I would say we are losing a great resource.

He’s just one guy, but I’m sure there’s plenty more.

Anonymous Coward says:

The usual typical reactions....

From some of the comments I read I see that there seems to be some confusion on the topic. Here goes my opinion…

Foreign workers are just that; foreign. Some emigrate legally others illegally. Some are skillful, others not. But this post does not cover what should or what is. It’s about the legal skillful immigrants. Not the illegal immigrants, not there lack of understanding a language, or social care, or working for cents in any or all inhumane conditions. It’s not about how they get exploited by the very people who bring them illegally into a country or by the people that “employ” them.

It’s about the legal skillful honest people who work and are very productive, and thus helps the company they work for in becoming more competitive and, again, being more successful. This in turn results in that company getting more work and thus needing more staff to cope with the extra load. This, in my opinion, is actually a good thing. More jobs are created.

But then one might argue that the foreign worker is taking the job a local citizen. But what if that foreigner is better qualified? Does that same reasoning also apply? Obviously it does because it’s the same argument. If there was no immigrant, the job would go to a local citizen. But, for example, if that citizen is not as qualified or as skilled, the benefit for that company will not impact the market as much and, therefore, not create any future jobs or create much less.

I think most countries welcome skillful workers because of the benefits they provide for the overall economy, but in an economic recession we all cry out that immigrants steal jobs and blame them for unemployment. That’s just a load of crap! And just talking about illegal immigrants, etc, etc, is just going off-topic.

bob says:

too picky

Franky, corporations have gotten far too picky in what they are looking for in employees. They want someone who is already fully up to speed in specific technologies then they bitch when they can’t find anyone. Hiring practices need to change. They need to accept some people who might not fit the bill exactly and let them ease into the role.
On the immigration front, people who were here to collect a check and go back to their homeland shouldn’t have been here in the first place. America has been made what it is by immigrants who come and stick it out for the duration.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, reading the original article and then talking about H1B immigrants is going off topic also.

The article was about how to keep these educated skilled workers here in the US, not how to attract them (since they are already here) and the reasons they are now leaving. The article states the main reasons for their leaving is because of social and personal reasons, not visa problems.

The original post was built on strawmen, both from opposition to immigration and the article itself.

Anonymous Coward says:

Jobs we need?

All this does is more accurately re-prices the market value of the skill sets for these “jobs we need” Thereby creating incentive for those here on H1B to assimilate, and seek US Citizenship, and/or re-price the value of skillsets of American Citizens.

It used to be cheaper to hire another warm body to do some of this work than send a tenured employee thru training, now that has changed.

R. Miles says:

You think this is about immigrants?

In reading most of these comments, I’m truly stunned many of you have overlooked the real problem and that’s the American citizen.

One poster has it right. This country has become a consumer, not a producer. And there’s a reason for this.

If I were to make buggy whips, I’d have a hard time doing so in this country. Having to pay high salaries to my employees, health care benefits, covering building costs (rent, utilities), and trying to make profits for future development is extremely difficult.

For me to be successful and compete is impossible. I would have to sell my buggy whips at an extraordinary price to make ends meet.

This doesn’t even include the number of American businesses who could come after me for patent/copyright infringement lawsuits.

Immigrants are smart. Those here legally take advantage of our situation and use the experience to either open a new business or take it and apply it at home. Illegals take advantage by filling the employment opportunities many Americans shun as degrading, such as working at McDonalds.

We, as Americans, have no one to blame but ourselves. To even think about blaming immigrants is a piss poor excuse for our own stupidity.

Here’s an example: Mention Walmart, and you get people who will criticize this American business for treating its employees like crap with low salaries and poor benefits. Yet, at the same time, it creates jobs.

American companies will waste absolutely no time taking advantage of this by keeping salaries low while trying to push profits high. How many of you feel you’re not getting paid what you feel you’re worth?

This is because we expect high salaries for our work when comparing to the revenues the business is making. It’s the mentality of “Well, if the company is making this much, I should get more since I helped!”

Someone mentioned Microsoft. This is a perfect example. Using low cost employees outweighs the stupid American demands of higher salary and benefits. Most immigrants are thankful for the salary and experience. Not Americans. They want more because the company makes more.

Remember that comment made by Bank of America and how so many of you got pissed? Well, it’s 100% true. You’re pissed because it is true.

Our salaries are way too high when compared to countries like China. Don’t discuss sweat shop crap here, because it doesn’t apply. There are many legitimate Chinese businesses thriving legally because America is their largest customer.

I don’t blame immigrants at all for taking advantage of our stupidity. We deserve it as we continue pushing ignorance in business. This economic “crisis” is a fallout of our stupidity of trying to get richer by doing less work.

We have dug ourselves into a hole that looks impossible to get out of. Our demands are so selfish, we don’t think about the long term consequences. I’ve said it before that no person in this country is worth $1 million a year. NOT A ONE.

Capitalism may fuel better business opportunities in the short term, but in the long term, it will always fail. Bubbles burst when they get too big. As the bubble expands, so does the cost of producing goods. Our current livelihood is about to burst. This crisis is nothing compared to the fallout we’re about to see in the next decade.

Our cost of living is proof of this. Housing costs have skyrocketed. Food consumption takes 1/3 of a family’s income. Getting to work requires cheaply made but expensive automobiles. Yes, we’re a damn great country of producers as long as we can afford to do so.

China’s vast expansion is due to OUR money being spent overseas through purchased goods. If they make products at pennies on the dollar, they’re reaping huge profits because we can no longer compete due to employee demands.

Capitalism only works when it’s kept in check. So far, this country shows absolutely no signs of doing this and continues to find ways to increase revenue with little investment.

Reading the blogs of Techdirt proves this even more as American businesses will continue to blame others for their ills while treating their customers like criminals or criminally taking advantage of them.

Again, there’s no damn reason why a loaf of bread should cost more than $1, but in this country, there’s no choice for the cost if the business is to survive.

It’s sickening, especially given I’m an American who can not do a damn thing about it.

Thought Cancer says:


The vitriol against immigrants is pretty serious business, apparently. Mike, unfortunately, is right on the money with this one.

There’s another angle which might warrant further thought, however: American professionals emigrating. I’m an EE and my wife is a Ms Audit / CPA, and we are both preparing to leave the U.S. (where we’ve lived our whole lives). Protectionism, nativism, anti-intellectualism, and irresponsible capitalism all played a role in our ultimate decision, but in the end another country is going to benefit from our contributions. Some of our colleagues (U.S. citizens like ourselves) have either already made similar moves or are seriously considering them.

It’s quite alarming that Americans are seeing their intellectual class jumping ship and, instead of figuring out ways to stop them, build boogey-men to attack and justify the brain-drain.

Thought Cancer says:

Re: Re: Wow.

Sweden, actually. Other countries with similar or higher standards of living are desperate for skilled workers, and have rolled out the red carpet for people like us. Canada, Australia, Norway, and Denmark were all on our list as well, with similar immigration programs.

One point that was endlessly debated as we made our decision was this: when a skilled worker emigrates for work, he is exercising his free-market rights at the highest level. After all, one should be allowed to sell their product/service wherever they’d like to; whether it’s sneakers or engineering services, labor is as transnational as capital, but only with those who have the wherewithal to make the move.

In the end, there’s no need to talk anyone out of anything. Nothing stops you from making a similar move. After all, our corporate masters owe us nothing but a check for services rendered. We, however, owe ourselves the life of our choosing. History favors the bold!

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Good job, MIkey

On each and every issue, be it patent “reform” or H1B visa scandal Mikey tell us exactly what his corporate sponsors want us to hear…

Funny, angry dude, do you honestly have that much of a mental blockage? Or did you not read the post where I said I didn’t see much to like in the patent reform package?

You really are dense.

You’ve been caught lying here multiple times.

Our business has nothing to do with pushing a message for anyone. I write what I believe and that’s it. Our business is helping our customers hear what they NEED to hear. Most of our clients don’t want to hear what we tell them. We don’t do any work that involves us pushing a message.

You admitted this last year, and even apologized for it. Yet, apparently because you’re unable to actually come up with an argument for why we’re wrong, you have to lie.

Is it really that difficult for you to make a coherent argument without lying?

Vic (profile) says:

I’m American. I’ve just spent the last 10 years working in France, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Australia. Reading some of these posts, I should have only been allowed to work in America because if we shouldn’t let foreigners work here, foreign countries won’t allow us to work there. My experience abroad has made me rich, very rich, not so much financially but in life experience which has also enhanced my skills set. I would trade that for anything.
America is a country built by immigrants. In effect, it has drained the world of its intellectuals who sought a better, safer life and the ability to do their life’s work. Still today, more than 50% of US based PhD students in the sciences are made up of recent immigrants/foreign students. What has changed recently is that America doesn’t have the appeal it once had, not so much because it is any different, but because the countries from where these students are from (India, China, Eastern Europe) have become more competitive. Today, these bright minds can decide to stay in America or return home because either way, they have a fair chance of being successful. So the question is, would we rather have these people build competing businesses in their home countries or would we rather have them feel welcome here and give them the opportunity to build businesses here in America?

Vic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m not sure I understand the relationship between salary and education. You may come to realize one day that money is not the only incentive for people to study, learn and/or contribute their knowledge.

That MDs earn so much money in America is one of the reasons the medical system is in such trouble. But we’re getting off track.

angry dude says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“You may come to realize one day that money is not the only incentive for people to study, learn and/or contribute their knowledge”

Sure sure

a much better incentive is to be out of work upon graduation, without any hope of getting one

That’s the kind of incentive we currently have in place for young american kids studing science and engineering

But, unlike you, kids are not dumb

Vic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m not sure I understand the relationship between salary and education. You may come to realize one day that money is not the only incentive for people to study, learn and/or contribute their knowledge.

That MDs earn so much money in America is one of the reasons the medical system is in such trouble. But we’re getting off track.

Thought Cancer says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:


Angry Dude is a contrarian. Notice his comments all center around poking holes in others arguments, rather than presenting his own. His moniker should clue you in to his modus, as well.

The world is a big place, and success is available to any who wish to reach out and grab it. The United States, my country, is no longer the only game in town.

No one would begrudge a company for seeking out new markets for its services. The same level of professional respect should exist for laborer as well.

dan says:

This problem is systemic and cannot be treated symptomatically. To follow your logic, we don’t have enough highly educated people here so lets import some, instead of improving the education process and employment opportunities of those that are. Why should we advantage an immigrant over a natural born citizen?

Russ (profile) says:

Melting Pot

I serve on the IEEE Executive Board locally. In fact, I attended a meeting last night. Of the 25 or so people in attendance, there were roughly 60% who emmigrated from another country. Represented (not a full list) were India, Germany, Sinapore, China and Korea. They, to a person, are tech leaders and did generate not only jobs for themselves but for a number of support staff. All are here outside of the H1-B program.

We may lose a number of highly educated temporary workers (and I certainly endorse the Green card, not temporary visa efforts) but some are highly invested in the US. If we want to gain from those who choose to find an education in the States, we need to give them a way to be invested in our country’s success. H1-B is not the way to do that.

For more on the topic I suggest checking out Jim started Action Instruments in 1973 and made it a great success. He has a number of comments about what is happening and steps that the US could do to make things better here. (BTW, Jim came from India).

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Brain drain

Excellent article, but it isn’t that simple – pegging on an extreme, as usual, doesn’t work, even if it appeals to readers.

I know of cases where companies deliberately discriminated against Americans (in one case, the American was definitely better skilled, but the Chinese immigrant who replaced him made $1000 per month versus his $6000 per month, and was almost as able – was money involved? DUH!).

On the other hand, with care, immigrant workers are a good thing; but having them return to their countries to increase the wealth of the overall world community is good, too.

Like almost everything, there are no simple answers, though there are a lot “experts” – an expert is someone who “doesn’t know what he doesn’t know”, BTW.

Bobby LeBrown says:


Canada has a smart immigration policy. It places educated immigrants at the front of the line, the less skilled at the back. Point is, today, we (Canada and US) don’t have manufacturing, factory work as we did when we were rebuilding Europe after WWII (1945 to 1965). All those low skilled jobs are in Mexico and China today. The middle class is slowly disolving because it was those manufacturing jobs that supported that class.

We need to invest in our schooling, push programs like engineering like we did in the 1950’s in order to build the infrastructure of China or India. The US is full of cheap crap made in China, yet we have an opportunity to build that country and we barely scratch the surface. Instead, the Engineering programs at Ivy League Universities are filled by foreigners, who then return to China and India and get to work! This is our opportunity for taking back what we gave.

Anonymous Coward says:

I disagree with you, but I also do not know where
about, on this planet you reside.
I on the other hand live in the state of Illinois
and let me assure you, that the people coming into
this state and taking jobs, are not educated.
If you go to a car wash or detailing, place of
business, the young boys, not men, should be in
school. Perhaps learning to read and write would
be in there best interest.

ron says:

this article is complete horse shit.

we don’t need these Asian pin heads.they work for cheap that’s why employers push for hi-b visa holders,so they can fire an American and hire sanjay.most Asian startups in silicon valley are not tech based they are information based meaning they make money off producing nothing except a lot of employees all from india of course.they don’t practice diversity.they are not very good coders or engineers.there are some exceptions but that doesn’t justify stealing americans birthright with these indian have a lot of nerve supporting these scam artists,they know exactly what they are doing.and laughing all the way to the bank.while americans have to watch their valley become like all of a sudden they are smarter than us and silicon valley is what it is today because of them?horseshit.they lack creativity and most big startups are white people.even with 52% of the jobs in silicon valley,minorities complain silicon valley is too male and too white.thats because we are the main innovators of tech and to complain about whites having 48% of the jobs in their own country is just arrogance gone awry.get rid of the h1-b visa and open up the door to the thousands of unemployed americans in silicon valley whos jobs and lives have been ripped off and given to an indian or a this creates huge security risks when these communist Asians have access to all our highest technology.they are little cheaters and thieves .how do you think they get into the good colleges they cheat on exams.not all but as a tech engineer who has watched minorities prosper and get hired at places I only dream of,i can only think to myself,this was intended for our children ,not theirs.i may be racist after being descended on by these Asian locusts its a title I will gladly welcome.eliminate the h1-b visa send the Indians home and get the homeless americans back into work like it used to be.these foriegners have made many americans homeless in silicon valley.just drive through any business park in san jose and you will see the tents.its like we have swapped places with the Indians,thanks to liberals.lets face it they are the ones that want them here.dont believe the bull that foriegners are the best and brightest in silicon valley,we just had a white guy in morgan hill,build a plane that can fly to space from a runway takeoff,in his garage.whites make better stuff in their garages than the Indians do.they just can’t get hired.if you don’t speak indian you are no good to now we are openlybeing discriminated against and kept out of jobs by foreign our own country.its gone insane the whole she bang.and we are going to eliminate their happy little lives and send them home.

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