The enclosed op-ed is [see below] by the head of TechNet, an industry lobbying firm, and Scott McNealy, who just stepped down as head of Sun. Let's look at their version of the "Einstein argument" in support of employer sponsorship of foreign tech workers:
* What do the founders of Intel, Sun Microsystems and Google - Andy Grove,
Andy Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla and Sergey Brin - have in common with
* Einstein and Wernher von Braun? All are part of America's tradition
* welcoming talented immigrants who have made significant contributions to
Aside from the fact that Grove and Brin were not H-1Bs or equivalents, and Grove and Khosla provided only business acumen to their firms, and aside from the from that Grove was NOT one of the founders of Intel, the key point is that NONE OF THOSE THREE COMPANIES HAS BEEN PIVOTAL IN THE INDUSTRY'S DEVELOPMENT. None of them had a product superior to those of other firms. The industry would have done just as well without them, and in Intel's case, the industry would have done BETTER without Intel. And the reason McNealy stepped down is that Sun is a disaster. Google is fun to use, with its cute logo, etc., but its search engine isn't any better than the others.
* First, the world is catching on to the job-creating benefits of a strong
math and science education. China and India are graduating hundreds of
thousands of engineers each year.
Those figures are wrong. For example, they count technicians as "engineers." See
Even more importantly, WE ARE NOT USING THE ENGINEERS THAT WE HAVE, SO IT'S IRRELEVANT WHETHER OTHER NATIONS PRODUCE MORE OF THEM THAN WE DO.
* For the U.S. high-tech community, these laws present a difficult choice:
Innovate or perish. If we can't find professionals to do the job here in
* USA, many will simply move the job to the qualified workers overseas.
Eileen Appelbaum answered this one best (see
But Eileen Appelbaum, an economist and member of a National Research Council committee that studied the impact of H-1Bs on the U.S. economy, does not accept the way the H-1B option is typically framed: One can have an H-1B worker in an American job, or lose that job to exportation.
"Industry said in 2001, "Let us have the H-1B visas and we'll do the work here, or you can say no and we'll just move the work offshore,' " she said. "Well, they got all the H-1Bs they wanted, and they still moved work offshore. In 2005, that's an argument industry can't make with a straight face."
And again even more importantly, the firms themselves admit that they use H-1B as a vehicle to facilitate offshoring, and would find it very difficult to offshore without it. See also Prof. Ron Hira's research which quantifies this, with the typical arrangement being that a firm puts one H-1B onshore for every two workers offshore.
* A new study by the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-profit
organization, has concluded that the laws are forcing good-paying,
job-creating positions offshore.
As John Miano has pointed out, go to NFAP's Web page. Do you see anywhere on the page where you can contribute to this "non-profit organization"? No, NFAP has plenty of funding of its own, thank you. And it almost certainly is coming from firms that want to hire cheap foreign labor, and from the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Posted 4/25/2006 10:02 PM ET
By Lezlee Westine and Scott McNealy for USA TODAY
What do the founders of Intel, Sun Microsystems and Google - Andy Grove, Andy Bechtolsheim, Vinod Khosla and Sergey Brin - have in common with Albert Einstein and Wernher von Braun? All are part of America's tradition of welcoming talented immigrants who have made significant contributions to our industry.
Einstein changed the way we look at science and energy; von Braun was the father of the U.S. space program; and Grove, Bechtolsheim, Khosla and Brin are among the many giants who have changed the high-tech industry.
The innovative companies they built created thousands of jobs and have a combined market cap of $250 billion. But our longstanding tradition of being an open door for innovation is at risk.
Today's broken immigration system closes the door on foreign-born innovators. With arbitrary visa limits and clogged processing, opportunity is knocking at our door and we're fumbling with the keys.
It wasn't always this way. Several of our nation's Nobel laureates are foreign-born. The past half-century of scientific research success that has made our universities the beacon of innovation would not have occurred but for the contributions of foreign-born students. And the efforts of Grove, Bechtolsheim, Khosla and Brin alone have generated thousands of U.S. jobs and hundreds of millions in U.S. tax revenue.
So why the conflict between our laws and our policy?
First, the world is catching on to the job-creating benefits of a strong math and science education. China and India are graduating hundreds of thousands of engineers each year. In addition, they and other nations have established generous tax incentives to lure research and development into their countries. These factors have made the competition for talent global.
Second, our past success breeds the potential for the next "big thing" in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology and biophysics. By 2012, it's projected that the demand for technical jobs in science and engineering will increase by more than 25%, and 39% in math and computer science. Factor in the tech rebound, and the need will be even greater.
What happened the last time we saw demand for these professionals soar? Congress created a visa program for immigrants who had unique technical knowledge, a bachelor's degree and a job offer in the USA.
Under the current system, the federal government provides 65,000 H-1B visas each year, beginning Oct. 1. Yet the visas made available last October were spoken for almost two months before that, which means our open door for innovation is temporarily closed for 14 months.
For foreign-born students graduating from a U.S. college in June, the H-1B limitations make it difficult for them to find jobs here. We're even closing the door on those with H-1Bs visas who seek permanent U.S. residency because of extended delays in a system designed largely in 1990, when our workforce and economic needs were different.
For the U.S. high-tech community, these laws present a difficult choice: Innovate or perish. If we can't find professionals to do the job here in the USA, many will simply move the job to the qualified workers overseas.
A new study by the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-profit organization, has concluded that the laws are forcing good-paying, job-creating positions offshore. We know that the long-term solution is investing in educational programs in math, science and engineering. But we won't see the fruits of those investments for at least a decade.
In the short term, we should align our immigration laws with our economic needs. What Congress does now will determine whether our nation stays competitive in the global economy. Without innovation, we have nothing.
Lezlee Westine is CEO of TechNet, and is chairman of Sun Microsystems.