The RAISE Act, now under consideration in the Senate, would radically change traditional U.S. immigration policy, moving it in the direction of points-based systems used in Canada and Australia. It has been endorsed by (and perhaps partly written by) the Trump White House, and is being promoted by the major immigration reform, i.e. restrictionist, organizations.
In my post yesterday, I debunked some of the current myths about chain migration, one of the major problems RAISE aims to solve. As I have said ever since the bill was first introduced, I agree that chain migration should be ended, but RAISE is too elitist for my taste.
Well, taste is one thing, but loss of job opportunities is quite another. America’s tech workers, already victimized by immigration policy, would be harmed even more by RAISE, as it would redistribute green card allocation from the largely low-skilled to the high-skilled, thus providing even more competition at the latter level. While it might seem desirable to bring in more techies, we have a surplus as it is. And even worse, extra points would be given to younger workers who wish to immigrate, exacerbating the rampant age discrimination in the industry.
The other day, I wrote that the Issa and Durbin-Grassley bills to reform H-1B would have the effect of encouraging Congress to enact some kind of Staple a Green Card to Their Diplomas legislation, under which foreign STEM students at U.S. universities would be granted a fast track green card. This would be truly disastrous, dwarfing any current problem with H-1B etc. I stated,
And Congress, by enacting either Issa or D-G, would be endorsing the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad notion. If you believe in IGIB, Staple then makes perfect sense, a logical followup to Issa/D-G.
Note that this same dynamic would occur with RAISE. The Intels don’t want to hire a 40-year engineer who immigrates to the U.S. under RAISE. So if RAISE starts to gain traction on the Hill, the Intels will say, “Fine, we support that, but we need you to fold Staple into the bill.”
Again, all of this would lead to a greatly expanded young tech labor pool. Whether the expansion consists of green card holders or not is really irrelevant.
Bottom line: Issa, D-G and RAISE would make things worse for American tech workers. Not better, not neutral, but WORSE. This may be an “inconvenient truth” for the immigration reform organizations, but that is the reality.
Imagine my surprise, then, to find that RAISE coauthor Sen. Perdue is way ahead of me! He won’t have to be pushed by the industry to enact Staple; he already believes in it. Here is what he said in a recent CIS panel:
…look, why wouldn’t America be the brain sink? You know, I’ve never believed that innovation has an upper limit, and innovation, capital formation and the rule of law is what created the economic miracle we’ve all enjoyed here in the United States since 1946. So, you know, I just – I’m of a mind that right now what we’re doing is we’re educating a lot of young people around the world coming to our colleges and universities…
The problem is we’re educating these young people, giving them diplomas, in many cases putting them on scholarships, and then not giving them a green card…
So I’m of an opinion that nobody knows what this limit ought to be, what a number should be, but we can – we will find out. But first we’ve got to stop chain migration and go to a merit-based immigration system.
This is standard language that the Staple proponents (including Presidents Obama and Trump) have been using. And note that last passage: Enact RAISE first, then on to Staple.
I wrote yesterday that supporters of chain migration
…numbers are power. China will overtake the U.S. in size of economy (which translates to power in various ways) in a decade or so, NOT because of its economic system — it is still a poor country in per-capita terms — but simply due to the sheer size of its population. So the Council for Foreign Relations [CFR] types want us to “compete” by establishing our own large population [via chain migration]…
Perdue, though wanting to end chain migration, really thinks the same way. I’ve written before that there is a kind of open secret among some in DC that H-1B etc. have the goal of “stealing China’s engineers,” thus really the same geopolitical motivation as the CFR people.
Not only does that throw our own engineers under the bus, but also it has exactly the opposite of the intended effect. Research by myself and others has shown that the foreign engineers are on average weaker than the Americans, not stronger. These policies in effect replace more talented techies by weak ones. This ought to be keeping people on the Hill awake at night. Instead, they are busy promoting policies to make it worse.
To put it bluntly, are China’s engineers worth stealing? Some are absolutely brilliant, and I have always vigorously supported “stealing” those, but most are plodders, casualties of the rote memory educational system/culture in East Asia. The Chinese government itself has been quite worried about this (as have the governments of South Korea, Taiwan and Japan). In an article written by an engineering professor in China (“China’s New Engineering Obstacle,” by Chen Lixin, Prism, pub. by the American Society for Engineering Education, September 1999). Chen warns his nation that the engineers being produced by Chinese universities are not good enough for China to compete in the global high-tech market. Professor Chen says the educational system in China produces students who cannot think independently or creatively, and cannot solve practical problems. He writes that the system “results in the phenomenon of high scores and low ability.” Chinese immigrant/American education dean Yong Zhao has repeatedly expressed the same views.
We in the U.S. are not smarter than the Chinese, nor do we work harder. What we excel in is creativity and deep insight, fostered by our more free-wheeling culture. Why would we want to replace that by people from a nation that bemoans that it lacks that quality? That spate of “innovation” Perdue envisions cannot come very much from a rote-memory culture, and Perdue’s policies would drive out our own innovators in vaious ways.
Unfortunately, the immigration reform groups bought into RAISE without critically questioning it, just as they did with the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad myth.
Everyone should ask this simple question: Do we want to encourage or discourage our bright people into STEM? If the answer is the former, then we should double- and triple-check any proposed policy in terms of its potential impact on that crucial aspect, before headlong endorsing it.