Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Immigration Reform, H-1B VISAs & the Guest Worker Program

The Kauffman Foundation is a non-profit foundation based in Kansas City, Missouri. It has an asset base of $2 billion. The Kauffman Foundation states that its vision is to foster "a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities". It focuses its grant making and operations on two areas: advancing entrepreneurship and improving the education of children and youth.

Associates of the foundation work with partners to support programs that directly impact a child’s academic achievement, with a concentrated focus on math, science, engineering and technology skills. Through a comprehensive ten-year initiative to significantly improve math and science education in Greater Kansas City, the Kauffman Foundation hopes to help create a national model for how to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and workers needed in the United States.

This blogger recently read an in-depth study that this foundation wrote on our immigration policies, and they advocate for immigration reform concerning what they call the "Reverse Brain-Drain". They say that "more than a million skilled foreign nationals in the United States, including doctors and scientists, face a mounting visa backlog."

The Council on Foreign Relations references this study on their website, saying "Reforming the cumbersome visa and citizenship process for immigrants, particularly skilled foreign workers in high-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, is a priority to ensure that the country retains its competitiveness in the global economy, say some experts and politicians, who are concerned about the prospect of a "reverse brain drain."

From The Huffington Post: The 'best and the brightest' of immigrants would be given an easier path to legal immigration.

Congress has attempted multiple times to reform the legal immigration system for high-skilled workers, most recently with the STEM Jobs Act in the House last year, which sought to give green cards to foreign graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The White House opposed the bill because it wanted comprehensive immigration reform, and the bill never got a vote in the Senate. A separate bipartisan group of senators -- led by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) -- plan to introduce a bill to address "high-skilled workers".

The Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) also strongly disagrees with the current Senate proposal on a "Path to Citizenship", but for very different reasons than of this blogger's concerns.

Obama said any reform package must make immigrating legally easier to navigate for high-skilled workers and graduates with advanced degrees in the United States.

Those who agree with the President’s proposal says it attracts the best minds to America, by providing visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses here and helping the most promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in this country after graduation, rather than take their skills to other countries.

Virgil Bierschwale from Keep America at Work in Texas says, "I say this with full confidence having spent my life in these STEM industries. There is NO difference between a carpenter and a programmer. Both build things with their hands. I managed to spend 30 years programming computers with only a basic understanding of basic math."

Contance Kaplan, a Mexican immigrant living in New York City says, "Too many working Americans are clueless about Obama's H-1B visas on employment. Jobless Times did two shows on this topic and the negative impact it had on Americans trying to get decent jobs. This only encourages foreigners to take our jobs away at less pay. India's job boards are full of ads and include the process to obtain these visas. Obama broke all records deporting illegal Mexicans, but this group is NOT taking away American jobs because we don't like washing dishes and cutting grass. I find it reprehensible to give good professional jobs to foreigners vs. Americans."

Below is an e-mail I sent to Brianna Lee blee@cfr.org Production editor at the Council on Foreign Relations, Barbara Pruitt bpruitt@kauffman.org at the Kauffman Foundation and Tom Phillips comptwp@aol.com at Communication Partners.

----- Original Message -----

Why is the Kauffman Foundation and the Council on Foreign Relations so concerned about skilled foreign workers in the U.S --- and why are they so concerned about immigration reform, regarding the so-called "reverse brain drain"?

From what I gather, they are not seemingly so concerned about our own college graduates and unemployed engineers. Is it because foreign workers here on a VISA grant in a guest worker program can under-cut domestic wages?

What particular skills are needed in the U.S. that aren't already being currently pursued (or possessed) by natural born U.S. citizens? Can you provide me with a list?

In this CFR article it states that "more than one million skilled immigrant workers, including scientists, engineers, doctors and researchers..." --- but do we not already have a few million unemployed Americans, which might also include scientists, engineers and researchers? And is there a shortage of doctors as well?

Shouldn't our colleges and universities be put on alert, to be made aware of the deficient curriculums they are presently providing to our young people? Shouldn't high school guidance counselors also be trained to know the needed skills in the future work force?

Do the CEOs (our "captains of industry" and "community leaders") communicate their concerns to our schools and colleges regarding the unskilled output of our students and graduates?

Does our government and military also have a shortage of scientists, engineers and researchers? And if so, are you saying that it's out of necessity that we recruit them from China and India?

Do other Western industrialized countries also have a "reverse brain drain"?

Thank You,
Bud Meyers

*** NOTE: If I receive a response, I will post it as a comment to this article. I'm very concerned about the provision in the new proposed immigration bill that gives special preferential treatment to foreigners with so-called "special skills". This will further deteriorate domestic wages.


  1. The current proposed immigration bill is bad, because it doesn't just address immigrants and unskilled labor from Mexico, but undercuts our current college graduates and unemployed engineers by giving high-skilled jobs to people from China and India who will work for much less.

  2. Applying for a non-immigrant H-1B visa is generally quicker than applying for a Green Card, therefore the H-1B visa is popular for corporations wishing to bring in people for long-term employment into the U.S. (for lower wages), thereby undermining domestic wages and keeping American workers unemployed. Why would Obama agree to this?