Saturday, July 31, 2010

"The real danger for the U.S. isn’t having too many immigrants—it’s not having enough"

Immigration is good for America. Too much of the public debate about immigration is driven by the Right's paranoia and nativism. Yes there are legitimate issues with border security that need to be addressed, but the contribution of immigrants as entrepreneurs and innovators and hard workers far outweighs the negatives of illegal immigration. All the Right is achieving is convincing millions of immigrants and their children that their only political home is on the Left and that's not good for America.

The reality is that immigrants add much more to our economy than they take from it. As Vivek Wadhwa wrote in Bloomberg Businessweek last year, though they ”constitute only 12 percent of the U.S. population, immigrants have started 52 percent of Silicon Valley's technology companies and contributed to more than 25 percent of our global patents. They make up 24 percent of the U.S. science and engineering work force holding bachelor's degrees and 47 percent of science and engineering workers who have Ph.D.s.”

A third of all graduate students in America are immigrants—half of those in engineering, computer and life sciences. And between 1985 and 1999 almost a third (32 percent) of America’s Nobel Prizes in chemistry were awarded to immigrants.

Immigrants also compose a key source of American entrepreneurs, from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to Intel founder Andy Grove. Over the past two decades, between a third and half of all Silicon Valley startups had a foreign-born person on their founding team—think of Google’s Sergey Brin, Hotmail’s Sabeer Bhatia, Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, and eBay’s Pierre Omidyar. This is what venture capitalist John Doerr was talking about when he said that America should “staple a green card to the diploma” of any immigrant who gets a degree in engineering. Even more than natural resources, American ingenuity or other factors, what stands at the heart and soul of U.S. prosperity was its openness to hard-working, ambitious, and talented immigrants of all stripes.

1 comment:

Jack Reylan said...

I will not deny that foreign students can be bright, but faculty exaggerate their brilliance because foreign students are servile in doing work and favors for faculty and not demanding that professors actually earn their tuition keep. Morevover, faculty like that foreign students are either afraid, complicit or morally ambivalent about the imoral behavior of professors. In many cases they are more likely to share the professors' anti-Americanism than American students. Foreign students are the least risk takers and the least innovative and the most likely to take bureaucratic "safe" jobs depending on grants instead of markets.