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.