DHS Sees What It Wants to See

Much appreciation to an alert reader for pointing me to DHS’ Final regulations on OPT. Final, that is, subject to the pending lawsuit, but this is not my subject in this post. Instead, I wish to point out an outrageous mischaracterization DHS makes of my EPI research paper in that document, exemplifying the continuing grossly irresponsible behavior of that agency.

DHS says (referring to me as “EPI,” emphasis added),

With respect to the studies by Dr. Hunt, DHS notes that the NPRM cited those studies in support of the general proposition that STEM workers “are fundamental inputs in scientific innovation and technological adoption, critical drivers of productivity growth in the United States.” 80 FR 63383. The EPI study did not question this proposition. Rather, the EPI study examined a narrow band of STEM fields to show that “immigrant workers, especially those who first came to the United States as international students, are in general of no higher talent than the Americans, as measured by salary, patent filings, dissertation awards, and quality of academic program.”  (61) Specifically, the EPI finding is focused on whether foreign-born students who earned computer science and electrical engineering degrees in the United States file patent applications at higher levels than U.S.-born students earning the same degrees. For electrical engineering, the analysis showed that patenting activity of U.S. and foreign-born students was about the same, while for computer science the analysis showed that foreign-born computer science students apply for somewhat fewer patents than do their American peers.

The EPI paper, however, acknowledges that the Hunt studies cited in the NPRM cast a much broader net, encompassing a myriad of science and engineering fields. The Hunt papers considered the impact of foreign-born workers employed in the United States in myriad visa classifications and fields of study, and was not focused solely on F-1 students or STEM OPT students (nor to just Computer Science and Electrical Engineering research activity). As explained in the Hunt papers, there is support for the proposition that foreign-born scientists and engineers achieve higher rates of U.S. patent filings. The Department continues to believe such patent rates support the conclusion that the STEM OPT extension is in the national interest.

This is way, WAY off the mark, in numerous aspects.

First of all, Professor Hunt published two papers, DHS references 28 and 29. (The latter originally was first published as an NBER working paper, then later in the Journal of Labor Economics, JOLE.) Reference 28 boils down to saying that immigrants have a lot of patents, because they tend to be in STEM fields; American bank managers, truck drivers, lawyers, doctors etc. generally don’t file patent applications. But in Hunt’s second paper, Reference 29, she looked at PER-CAPITA rates; relative to Americans in a given profession, do immigrants file fewer patent applications or more of them? Her answer was that the immigrants are LESS likely to file for patents than natives. In my EPI paper, I quote Hunt from her NBER paper:

After I control for field of study…and education…both main work visa groups and student/trainee visa holders have statistically significantly lower patenting probabilities than natives.

Academic politics being what they are — especially concerning research on immigration, where reviewers often have polarized views on this matter — JOLE told Hunt to remove H-1Bs from her paper, so the above passage was not in the final JOLE version. Nevertheless, even with that omission, she still found that the immigrants filed no more patents per capita than did the Americans.

So, DHS is misrepresenting not only me but also Hunt.

It gets worse:

Recall from above that DHS says

Rather, the EPI study examined a narrow band of STEM fields to show that “immigrant workers, especially those who first came to the United States as international students, are in general of no higher talent than the Americans, as measured by salary, patent filings, dissertation awards, and quality of academic program…For electrical engineering, the analysis showed that patenting activity of U.S. and foreign-born students was about the same, while for computer science the analysis showed that foreign-born computer science students apply for somewhat fewer patents than do their American peers.”

I showed that and much more. Compared to the natives, the former foreign CS students not only filed fewer patent applications, but also had lower salaries (even after getting a green card and becoming free agents), and among those earning a doctorate, earned their degrees at lower-ranking universities. Both EE and CS immigrants were less likely to work in R&D, directly contrary to DHS’ claim of “innovation.”

And as to DHS’s saying that my study only covered the “narrow band” of computer science and electrical engineering: First of all, that’s hardly narrow! Computer occupations alone account for 50% of the H-1Bs. But even more important, DHS itself notes that Hunt’s paper covered the gamut of fields, and as I noted above, she found that “work visa groups and student/trainee visa holders have statistically significantly lower patenting probabilities than natives.” Even if DHS wants to dismiss Hunt’s NBER version of the paper, her final JOLE version (which excluded the H-1Bs) found that, again as noted above, the immigrants filed no more patents per capita than did the Americans.

In other words, DHS’ statement, “As explained in the Hunt papers, there is support for the proposition that foreign-born scientists and engineers achieve higher rates of U.S. patent filings,” is, if you will, patently false.

Furthermore, my paper also quoted the “wide band” statement of Bound et al:

In physics, biochemistry, and chemistry much of the expansion [from the mid-1980s to mid-90s] in doctorate receipt to foreign students occurs at unranked programs or those ranked outside the top 50; the growth in foreign students in engineering is distributed more evenly among programs. Among students from China, Taiwan, and South Korea growth has been particularly concentrated outside the most highly ranked institutions.

This of course jibed with my similar finding that the foreign CS students earn their degrees at lower-ranked schools. But no mention of my Bound citation by DHS in their “analysis” of my paper.

Note by the way DHS’ repeated use of the term “foreign-born” rather than simply “foreign.” As I have pointed out, this is official language from the industry lobbyists’ literature. Granted, a minor point, but one that exemplifies DHS’ cozy relationship with the lobbyists.

So, was that relationship so cozy that the DHS deliberately mischaracterized my EPI paper? Or are the DHS people such “true believers” in the glories of foreign work programs that they simply couldn’t see what was in plain sight in my paper? Maybe they simply lack critical reasoning skills? Whatever the cause is, this DHS document (I’ll discuss other parts of it in future posts), represents a gross failure in responsibility of a key government agency.

 

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7 thoughts on “DHS Sees What It Wants to See

  1. A comparison that is not available is that of professional engineering licensure for the various demographic groups of both graduate and undergraduate engineering .students. The study should include the professional licensure status of the engineering faculty by first degree location (inside / outside) the US. It would also be interesting to know the first time pass rate on the fundamentals exam for undergraduate students taking the exam by student status (secondary education in US or international). This is a good measure of competency in academic principles.

    In my state engineering faculty teaching advanced (junior and above) courses are required by statute to hold registration. The universities wiggle out of this by having a senior administrator registered and “supervising” the work of these – often tenured, endowed chairs – faculty members. The failure rate of engineering faculty to comply with the statutes is huge.

    I am of the belief that no individual should be allowed to receive an advanced degree in engineering unless qualified as an Engineering Intern. This is equivalent to medical school graduates being required to pass the medical exams before being permitted to practice or pursue advanced study in the US.

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  2. This story angers me greatly. If anything our government (DHS) should bend over backwards to protect U.S. workers first but in every instance from allowing illegal immigration to go unpunished and basically unchecked to outsourcing jobs and importing foreign workers they are deliberately harming american workers. I am starting to think that the federal bureaucracy sees no difference between foreign and american and actually gives the foreign workers advantages in some ways. The greed of these big corporations is destroying our country and constantly expanding the economic divide between the corporate owners and the workers. Here is another example of corporations lying to keep the laws in their favor. I certainly hope you can get their false analysis of your research corrected. You are fighting a good fight.

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  3. When I applied at DHS, 100% percent of the technical reviewers were foreign born. As soon as they took one look at me, white, US born, over 45) they said that they job was only for weekend work, every other weekend, and did I still want to apply? Maybe those are the same people that wrote this paper.
    EG means easy going, (haha) I am older than Bernie, but do admire what young guys do.
    egsanders.com

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    • > When I applied at DHS, 100% percent of the technical reviewers were foreign born.

      This here appalls me. It’s like the government has even outsourced itself. Foreigners are deeply embedded in our country’s system and they’re the ones making the decisions and basically the ones running the show. How are they supposed to make an objective decision, or a decision that is best for the interests of Americans and not foreigners?

      As I pointed out awhile back, foreigners are in high positions in the educational system (the president of Carnegie Mellon is an Indian – Subra Suresh), in corporate America, and now in gov’t. And they’re most probably colluding with each other to ‘scratch each other’s backs’ and push forward their agenda, which is continued selling out of America.

      Someone should really look at organizations like “The Indian Entrepreneur” or TIE. This is a very large national/international organization and these guys are in corporate America, educational institutions, and in gov’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, and Sri Srinivasan are members.

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  4. “Whatever the cause is, this DHS document (I’ll discuss other parts of it in future posts), represents a gross failure in responsibility of a key government agency.”

    One doesn’t have to look far these days to find gross failures in responsibilities of key government agencies.

    See also: EPA, Region 5.

    See also: Office of Personnel management (“OPM”)

    Those are just two recent _additional_ examples of what happens when you let appointed political hacks run things, e.g. Archuletta. You get denial of objective reality, as necessary, to suit political objectives.

    I’m no FixedNews cool-aid drinker. I voted for Obama… twice. But somebody needs to tell him and the rest of the Democratic party to stop demonizing Republicans for being “climate deniers” until they, the Democrats, clean out their own stables, and stop denying other inconvenient truths to suit their own political agendas. (Thanks to Norm, and others, we know where objective reality lies when it comes to this issue, so the Dems aren’t really fooling anyone, least of all the citizens who have been replaced by H-1Bs and/or their dependents.)

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  5. Where is Silicon Valley at? CA right? CA the biggest Democratic state in the nation. But if you think Democrat or republican makes any difference then I have a bridge to sell you. They are all corrupt. Why do you think Trump is rising and every single establishment figure wants him stopped? He is not going to do anything if he even becomes president. It is the fact that finally people see someone is strong enough to stand up and give this establishment a big slap across the face.

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