We see stories like this one over and over again, but that's because they're not exceptions. The Washington Post has a profile of two MIT postgrads who have created a water-decontamination system that was dubbed by Scientific American as a world changing idea
, based on the fact that it could revolutionize the controversial practice of fracking by decontaminating all of the contaminated water that is output by the process. Such technology is in high demand, and the two engineers, Anurag Bajpayee and Prakash Narayan Govindan, are trying to create a company that will hire an awful lot of people (beyond cleaning up our water). They have people willing to give them millions of dollars to do this.
There's just one simple problem. They're about to get kicked out of the country
because their student visas are expiring, and the US has no reasonable system for keeping such highly skilled engineers here
, rather than sending them back to their home countries.
But their student visas expire soon, both before summer, and because of the restrictive U.S. visa system, they may have to move their company to India or another country. "We love it here," said Bajpayee, a cheerful 27-year-old in an argyle sweater and jeans. "But there are so many hoops you have to jump through. And you risk getting deported while you are creating jobs."
Stories like this are so prevalent these days, and yet Congress remains unwilling to take the most basic steps
to fix the problem -- in part because the wider immigration debate raises so many other issues. Yet again, it seems that we're letting silly politics get in the way of actually doing what's right.
And, of course, the more that we fail to keep these skilled folks here, the more other countries are opening their arms to them:
Countries from Canada to Germany to Australia to Singapore are enthusiastically courting foreign entrepreneurs with relatively easy visas. Some offer cash.
China has given bonuses of up to $150,000 to thousands of highly skilled expatriates who have come home to work or start businesses. Chile is luring top talent with $40,000 in capital, free office space and a quick visa through its "Start-up Chile" program.
We're training the best and the brightest, and helping them to make breakthrough innovations that can change the world... and then kicking them out of the country and into the open arms of other countries. Can anyone explain how that makes sense? In the article, the only person they could find to argue against letting these kinds of skilled immigrants stay is a guy who works at an anti-immigration "think tank," whose argument is so empty of substance that, well, you just have to read it.
"It's a stupid idea," said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports tighter immigration controls. "What is an entrepreneur? Businesses come and go."
Yeah. The Center for Immigration Studies might want to look into bringing on spokespeople who can communicate complete thoughts in the future, because that argument seems to amount to "we hate it because bad." Hopefully, people who actually understand the impact of entrepreneurship and startup businesses have on the economy can finally get these kinds of needed reforms through Congress, and we can stop kicking skilled job creators out of the country.