The Economist has an article about how those silly Americans are shooting themselves in the foot by preventing talented immigrants from getting in. This is something that I have personally encountered and I have to agree with The Economist – it’s pretty dumb.
America is in the enviable position of being the goal destination for thousands of the world’s most talented people. That is a position that other countries would love to be in. Indeed America’s restrictive laws and the efforts of Europe, Canada, and Australia are starting to suck talent and companies out of America.
Each year only 85,000 H1B visas for highly skilled and company sponsored immigrants are allowed. This is so far below the demand that they are all gone on the first day. Remember that these are people who would really add to the American economy:
- Almost 25% of American Nobel prize winners are immigrants
- Great American companies like Google and Intel had immigrants among their founders
- 40% of America’s science and engineering PhDs go to immigrants
- Bill Gates (and several economists) have calculated that on average each foreigner who receives an H1B visa creates jobs for 5 Americans
So why do American politicians shoot their country in the foot like this? Because those politicians are elected by a largely ignorant and isolationist public. These guys think that allowing some of the most talented and skilled workers to add to their economy is a bad idea.