pop avata

BPO Journal

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Legal Immigrants

In the midst of the heated debate on the future of the millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on the dismal state of our system for admitting foreign-born professionals. This is in the wake of the scheduled mark-up of Arlen Specter's immigration bill today by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The key highlights of Mr. Specter's proposal:

  • The annual cap on H-1B guest worker visas for immigrants in specialty fields like science and engineering would rise to 115,000 from 65,000. Moreover, the new cap would not be fixed but would fluctuate automatically in response to market demand for these visas. "According to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy, our broken system for admitting foreign professionals also contributes to outsourcing. Since 1996 the 65,000 annual cap on H-1B visas has been reached in most years, sometimes only weeks into the new year. This leaves employers with the choice of waiting until the next fiscal year to hire workers in the U.S. or hiring people outside the country. Many companies concede that the uncertainty created by Congress' inability to provide a reliable mechanism to hire skilled professionals has encouraged placing more human resources outside the United States to avoid being subject to legislative winds." Remember my earlier post on Dell's aggressive hiring in India?

  • Another important reform addresses foreign students who want to work here after graduating from U.S. colleges and universities. As quoted in the Journal, "it doesn't make a lot of sense in today's global marketplace to educate the best and brightest and then send them away to England or India or China to start businesses and develop new technologies for U.S. competitors".

  • Mr. Specter would let more foreign students become permanent residents by obtaining an advanced degree in math, engineering, technology or the physical sciences and then finding work in their field. "It's unfortunate that the U.S. isn't producing more home-grown talent in these areas, and the fault there lies with our K-12 educators and their political backers who tolerate poor performance. The reality today is that the U.S. ranks sixth world-wide in the number of people graduating with bachelor's degrees in engineering. Jobs will leave the U.S. and our economy will suffer if bad policy limits industry's access to intellectual capital."

The immigration demonstrations highlight the state of the 11 million illegals already in the country. But the highly skilled and educated foreigners who are an active part of the labor market are not demonstrating. They have more options than ever in Asia and Europe. And as the Journal points out, we drive them away at our economic peril.

Outsourcing news
Blogcritics: news and reviews Blogarama - The Blog Directory Blogwise - blog directory Listed on BlogShares

     Take this Offshoring Survey