I was startled this morning to read in my Google Alerts newsfeed of a vicious and unwarranted attack in Redstate.com on Prof. Ron Hira of Howard University. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time for writing blog posts lately, but really, that Redstate.com article demands comment.
Ron is one of the top researchers on the H-1B work visa and offshoring of IT work. As noted in the article, he is frequently cited by the press, and has been called to testify before Congress on a number of occasions. But the author of the article seems to think that Ron’s work is tainted by presumed funding by a couple of organizations the author considers suspect — meaning, anti-immigration.
Regular readers of this blog know that I have strongly negative opinions of “hired guns,” academics who accept funding from entities that have a vested interest in an issue. But the entities cited by Redstate.com, the engineering society IEEE-USA and Democratic Party/labor aligned Economic Policy Institute, don’t fit the author’s anti-immigration description.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I consider IEEE-USA useless, indeed counterproductive, in addressing the problems of H-1B. They falsely portray the issue as one of “Intels Good, Infosyses Bad” and support proposals to grant automatic green cards to international students earning STEM degrees at U.S. schools. Such proposals would greatly harm U.S. citizens and permanent residents in STEM, but the point is that IEEE-USA’s policies are strongly PRO-immigration. To attack Ron as “anti-immigration” for for having been associated with the organization (which quickly distanced itself from Ron in response to Redstate.com) is absurd.
The article describes EPI as being backed by George Soros. If true, this is an odd fact to cite in claiming EPI and Ron are “anti-immigration.” To my knowledge, Soros is strongly PRO-immigration, and my impression of EPI is that they are basically on the pro- side as well, if not as unquestioning as Soros. A few years ago, EPI kindly invited me to write a research paper for them (unpaid, I must add, as with all of my research papers). This turned out to be the most stringently-reviewed paper I’ve ever published, lots of skepticism among the EPI reviewers, who also took the “Intels Good, Infosyses Bad” stance.
Finally, that anonymous Redstate.com writer calls Ron a hypocrite for taking “anti-immigration” stances in spite of his parents and in-laws being immigrants. This is a common argument by the immigration lobby, but it makes no sense. We all have immigrant background, whether it be one generation back or ten (or hundreds in the case of the Native Americans). Where does one draw the line? Do I, as the son of an immigrant, not have “standing” to criticize the H-1B program while my daughter, two generations removed from my dad, would be free to question immigration policy? Oh wait, her mom is an immigrant, so scratch that, though if she has children, they can voice an opinion, right?
Seems impossible to have a rational, calm discussion on immigration these days.