Interesting Article on Staple-a-Green-Card

An alert reader spotted an article in a academic chemistry magazine on the notion of “staple a green card to their diplomas,” an oft-made proposal to give automatic permanent residence status to STEM foreign students earning a graduate degree at US universities. As I reported recently, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is the latest to endorse that idea.

The chemistry magazine article, published in the UK, is interesting for its various quotes and links. I would in particular note its link to a statement by Sen. Jeff Sessions criticizing Clinton’s proposal, and its link in turn to a Census Bureau report finding that most STEM grads don’t work in STEM.

That Census Bureau report must be viewed with caution. Some STEM grads are actually not interested in working in the STEM field, and some others, say in computer science, are not technically strong enough for such work. (This is true for both domestic and foreign students.) But in fact there are many technically strong people who are trained in STEM and wish to have such jobs, but can’t get them. I’ve mentioned here in this blog many such American workers whom I know personally. And several people have told me in the last few weeks that things have become especially difficult in recent months.

Sessions’ point, in other words, is absolutely correct.

In 2011 I participated in a workshop on foreign STEM workers in the U.S. at Georgetown University, which I have written about before. Of the two dozen or so attendees, many were from the executive branch of the federal government, especially the National Science Foundation. Most of the government people there were enthusiastic supporters of “staple a green card,” and they loved to use the word “diversion,” referring to people with STEM degrees working in non-STEM fields. Some of them used this term in an almost celebratory manner, and dismissed point that many of “the diverted” are not happy about it at all. I found the atmosphere downright Orwellian, especially since one of the participants who was promoting Staple most fervently had been involuntarily “diverted” himself some years earlier.

The Sessions press release also notes, as the chemistry magazine article does, that Staple would turn the universities into diploma mills, designing programs aimed specifically at attracting foreign students who would pay dearly for a green card “granted” by the schools. Please note that this is already happening now; see the UC Berkeley example I reported in this blog recently. Clearly, the Staple proposal would make this much worse.

Finally, the chemistry magazine piece is interesting in its quote and link to former White House CTO Park. He is a former tech CEO, and it shows: He cites the much-discredited Zavodny figure claiming that each foreign worker creates 2.62 new jobs, uses the industry-preferred (and inaccurate) term foreign-born rather than foreign, etc. With “advice” coming from people like this, it is no wonder that President Obama has been so strongly in favor of H-1B and related programs. I hate to write such a thing on U.S. Independence Day, but clearly Obama is not very independent.



28 thoughts on “Interesting Article on Staple-a-Green-Card

  1. The foreign nationals supporting the Staple proposal seem to forget that once they have the green card, they are in the same boat as the American citizens competing against the cheaper, younger H-1Bs. Be careful what you wish for; you may not like the result.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Their reality checks will be amusing to watch. We can be laughing as they join us in the unemployment line. However, they are more likely to start their own staffing agency. I wonder how many of the immigrant founded companies, especially on the coasts,that are so acclaimed by the politicians and CEOs are these small “employers” whose main purpose is to obtain H-1B visas for family, friends, and ethnically similar people.

        It never ceases to amaze me the number of supposedly intelligent people who do not consider the possible outcomes before they start down a path.


  2. Sessions has criticized Clinton’s plan as favoring foreign over American students. It will be interesting to see where this goes. It’s hard to take Trump/Sessions seriously, but this is in the ballpark. I just don’t see Trump as FDR.


      • I’d like to point out that Trump has not explicitly said he wants ‘Staple a Green Card’ to all MS or PhD grads. His words were more ‘top of the class at our top schools’. And this could be in the form of an OPT extension or some kind of work visa like the H1B. And his statement regarding this was last year. His most recent statements (this year) are in line with Sessions.

        1) Trump stated in the Miami debate that he will suspend the H1B program for at least 1 year, probably 2 years, until we figure out & fix the problem
        2). Trump stated policy in May “My agenda will be accomplished thru a series of reforms that put always America First…reform that requires employers to recruit from the unemployment office, not the immigration office.


        • It’s clear that someone “got to” Trump right after he first released his platform. And that someone is pushing for Staple a Green Card. Just look at Trump’s use of all the code words, e.g. “Silicon Valley” (as opposed to the Infosyses) and “they’re not able to stay here.” What does “stay here” mean if not a green card?

          Politicians — not just Trump, but most — don’t know much at all about H-1B, and can’t afford to take the time to know. As a result, they are manipulated by people with agendas on H-1B. And, they are told that green cards and H-1B are completely different issues (congressional staffers whom I’ve talked to see it that way), so that they can sincerely say that they will do this and that about H-1B while at the same time supporting green cards.

          The real question is what Trump would do as president about foreign tech workers. He has at least one top aide who really knows the problem quite well, and he has his alliance with Sen. Sessions. Would that be enough for him to do the right thing? Or would he make a deal with Silicon Valley firms during the election, without knowing much?


          • Based on his policy statements (#1 and 2 above), it does look like his base policy is on the side of American IT workers and small ITSSFs (America First). If he chooses Sessions as VP, that would be an excellent sign. So who is the top aide who knows the problem well? Are you also talking about Sessions?

            Btw, Thiel’s company Palantir is suing the gov’t for not giving them a fair shake on bidding for a military contract worth $250Mil. Trump has said he will make things fair when it comes to ending the current practice of military contractors using lobbyists to get contracts instead of the contract going to the best equipment. Trump can also have the upper hand with SV firms by being able to help them by eliminating stifling regulation and helping US companies negotiations with trying to enter China (as we know Facebook, Uber and Apple are having problems entering the Chinese market).


          • Excellent points in your last paragraph. Trump could help Silicon Valley while still giving US tech workers a fair share.

            But even if he becomes president, I am not that optimistic on the foreign-worker issue. If he is told that the only problem with H-1B is the Infosyses, then he will think he is on the side of the American worker when he announces support for Staple.


  3. The trouble with Trump is his apparent ignorance and irrationality in his public persona. He does occasionally have glimmers of something better. But would he be any better in terms of independence? Obama talked a good game initially, but the reality of the office seems to have overwhelmed him in some areas. It might do the same to Trump.


    • f During the 2008 campaign, I saw that Obama was beginning to surround himself with Clinton’s old advisers, and I realized then and there that Obama would not bring about Change after all.


      • Right, Rubin, Summers, et al. I was still hopeful and hadn’t quite picked up on the duplicity of the bank bailout. In many ways Obama’s election was a great step forward, but more needed to be done….


  4. > Finally, the chemistry magazine piece is interesting in its quote and link to former White House CTO Park. He is a former tech CEO, and it shows: He cites the much-discredited Zavodny figure claiming that each foreign worker creates 2.62 new jobs, uses the industry-preferred (and inaccurate) term foreign-born rather than foreign, etc.

    Yes, I remember running across Park’s quote and adding it to the references at . It was especially disturbing to see the Chief Technology Officer of the United States repeating that claim on the White House web site. It came from a mere working paper that, to my knowledge, was funded by special interests. It will be interesting to see if they ever take that post down from the White House site at .


  5. 1) Your characterization of the workshop as Orwellian prompts me to ask whether ERW attended.
    2) I knew Trump soothed Silicon Valley but I didn’t think he had completely stabbed Jeff Sessions in the back. Could you refer me to his exact words that essentially endorse the “Staple” bill?


      • I believe that anyone who studies in the US on a training visa (F-1,J-1, M-1) should be required to return to their home country for a period equal to the time spent in studies and on OPT. Many are the most talented/motivated people from third world countries desperately needing help. I believe in making the pie bigger so that more can share in it rather than grabbing a bigger piece for myself.

        I find taking medical personnel from countries to which we are sending medical missions to be the most problematic. We can easily train more medical people; we should not be sentencing others in countries of desperate need for medical care to death for our selfishness/cheapness.


      • Also, when the universities say they “need” post docs they can easily create permanent positions for masters and bachelors graduates. They just do not want to pay the salary and benefits.


  6. Georgia Tech claims to “offer the first online Master of Science in Computer Science from an accredited university…… you can join computing professionals from more than 80 countries who are earning their M.S. on their own time, in their own homes, and for a total cost of about $7,000”.

    And, “In two short years, the program has received nearly 8,000 applications and enrolled more than 3,000 students, all working their way toward the same Georgia Tech M.S. in Computer Science as their on-campus counterparts.”

    If online degrees are allowed in Staple then this would upend the H-1B visa. Employers would flock to hire young STEM green card workers. No H-1B application fees, no wage studies, no lotteries and a STEM worker can be hired to do none STEM work.


    • The Staple proposals I’ve seen have excluded online programs. But of course, if Staple were enacted, the purveyors of those programs would push Congress until Congress acts to include them.


  7. I do not understand why you are so obsessed with the “staple green card” of Hillary’s tech platform.
    I double checked and this “staple green card” was literally one sentence in one paragraph. The majority talked about the domestic investment on US IT infrastructure and domestic STEM education which has nothing to do with immigration,

    If you are concerned about Hillary’s past policies on certain issues, Donald Trump’s fraudulent business record should be equally troubling to you in addition to his hot-headed personality.

    You have written several blog posts containing criticism against Hillary but I do not see you doing the same to Donald Trump who is equally troubling and also has serious problems in integrity,

    It is wrong for you to have double standard


    • I doubt that Trump has engaged in fraudulent business practices. Anyone can claim anything. As to my own opinion of Trump, I have made a number of posts in which I criticized him for essentially supporting Staple, and wrote “Trump is a chump.” If that is not enough for you, you should ask yourself who is the one with a double standard.


      • “Anyone can claim anything”

        that anyone includes Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders who you said you admire a lot


        • I urge you to read Elizabeth Warren’s autobiography. Then you will see why I trust and admire her so much.

          I’ve been an admirer of Bernie Sanders for quite a while, and have had some interaction with one of his aides, hence the high degree of trust I have for him as well.

          Neither Warren nor Sanders has ever let me down.


          • and both of them are very critical of Donald Trump, that should be more than enough to alarm you about Donald Trump but you said you trust Trump


          • Please me more careful, Yi. I have never said such a thing.

            As I have said, this year’s presidential election is making for good theater, if nothing else. The most interesting recent development is people calling for Hillary to step aside in favor of Bernie, to prevent a Trump win. It used to be the opposite, people calling for Bernie to step aside.


          • You did say you trust trump. on your blog posts in February, under title “where I do not stand”, you wrote “they are the ONLY two candidates in either party in whom I have any confidence that they would “do the right thing.”

            also under “More Disturbing News about Sec. Clinton”, you said in your comments that you trust him.

            That is very inconsistent with the positions of Elizabeth Warren who said Donald Trump is “small, insecure money-grubber.” and Bernie Sanders said Trump is a pathological liar.

            Should one trust a small insecure money-grubber or a pathological liar?

            I heard the news that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary next week


          • Yi, did you notice the word “any” in your quote of me, “they are the ONLY…”? It changes the entire meaning of the sentence. It basically says that I have SOME confidence that Bernie and Trump would do right by H-1B. In other words, on the H-1B issue, I don’t trust Hillary at all, but I do have some hope for Trump on that issue.

            I hope you are not offended by my giving you this English lesson. Actually, your English is excellent.

            As I’ve said many times, I greatly admire Elizabeth Warren. But she really needs to be educated on some issues.


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