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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy


Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

As we hear the grim predictions from folks like Alan Greenspan that the US may be heading in to the worst economic downturn since World War II, Congress should be looking to promote free trade policies that will stimulate world economic growth rather than pushing protectionist policies that will only hurt our economy. That includes ending the artificial shortage of H-1B workers and letting market forces determine how many highly educated workers come from abroad. 

The Wall Street Journal has called on Congress to increase H-1B numbers. They are just the latest voice calling for action. But there are labor cartel members - the Programmer Guild, IEEE-USA and others - who would rather use legislation to maintain a scarcity situation in order to push up salaries beyond what the market dictates and preserve jobs for individuals unable and unwilling to compete. They are even willing to  see US companies fail before compromising. Unfortunately for them and for America, companies will do what it takes to survive. And for many, that means simply moving operations overseas. The ONLY responses the antis have to the outsourcing argument is that outsourcing is unpatriotic and the threats are idle. The threats are not idle. Moving operations overseas is a reality and you can hear Lou Dobbs whine about it on a nightly basis. As for patriotism, make it economically viable for companies to stay in the US and you'll see the pace of outsourcing drop precipitously.


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  1. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "But there are labor cartel members - the Programmer Guild, IEEE-USA and others "

    Using the term cartel is absurd. By definition, you are way off here. You are so far off, it is funny. I know you are trying to find a heated word to toss at us, but at least find something at least somewhat accurate. You aren't even in the same ballpark:
    A cartel is a formal (explicit) agreement among firms. Cartels usually occur in an oligopolistic industry, where there are a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these.

    A cartel also implies some sort of coordinated effort. I can speak from experience that the PG and IEEE-USA aren't on the same page when it comes to this issue.

    I know how much you hate labor groups Greg. Come up with a word that embodies the hatred you have for us honest hard working American software engineers. Let me know what you come up with, and I'll let you know what I've come up with for your profession.

    Finally - your friend Anderson is a snake. His study ommited the top sponsors of H-1b visas. And then he made the absurd causal statement that hiring H-1b holders produces more American jobs. Or at least the journalists citing his paper made that link - wrongly.

    What your pal Anderson could have said - honestly - was that a group of companies that he cherry picked hired 5 times more Americans than H-1b holders. Fine. But his "study" is full of fallacies.

    What else should we expect from a group funded by the IT industry. Wait, I can't call him a group since it is just him. Does he at least have a secretary now, or does he answer his own calls? If he's going to take their money he should at least make it worth his while.

    Why doesn't he also disclose who his donors are, and how much?
  2. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Gee Roy, somehow I assumed you would be the first to post. I'm not going to get in a discussion with you since your positions are pretty clear and you would always insist on the last word. I'll give you the honor of having the last word right off the bat by simply not engaging in conversation. I'm sure others will find arguing with you too much to resist, however.
  3. George Chell's Avatar
    The corporations are private organizations and they owe no one anything protestations from Mr. Lawson notwithstanding. It is very intersting that Americans who oppose Affirmative Action will say the best person should get the long as that best person is a white American. The only thing the government can and perhaps should do is remove tax breaks. If it is unapatriotic to move jobs abroad will Americans be equally patriotic and not work for Toyota and Honda?
  4. George Chell's Avatar
    Mr. Lawson is right that doctors earn seven figures. My response is to outsource. I get my check-up every year in Singapore and the insurance corporation covers all my expenses. I suggest more Americans do the same.
  5. 's Avatar
    "us" ? Lawson you speak for yourself you dumbass
  6. doctors earn 7 figures?'s Avatar

    i must be grossly underpaid. *****! :-)

    incidentally they start working at 35 years of age losing 10 years of productivity compared to you. during those 10 years they work in virtual slave conditions. to begin the wonderful years of underpaid labor they spend 8 years getting tough degrees.

    think about it.

    does everyone even want to be a physician? why are medical school applications falling? why won't graduating physicians fill residencies in "underpaid specialties" like primary care which in all fairness do pay in the SIX figures?
  7. Pete's Avatar
    Mr Lawson,
    You and your ilk ask for the free market to determine the demand and supply, yet with jobs you turn protectionist and put down competition. America has always been the land for "survival of the fittest" and anyone giving better quality services at a fair price is bound to be accepted sooner or later. You can pick up arguments with Greg over semantics but you will be hard pressed to argue against the fact that corporations are either going to need skilled labor here or else ship the jobs abroad.
  8. legal immigration's Avatar
    Its good to see Roy Beck (I think R Lawson is him)posting on this site and whining.

    This shows how powerful pro immigration and pro H1B lobby has become. These anti immigrants who are lazy and cannot compete are coming here and complaining..
  9. R. Lawson's Avatar
    There is no shortage of labor in the general IT labor market. Yet the solutions supported here are designed to fill a shortage that does not exist. It is designed to put downward pressure on American wages.

    There have been plenty of studies dicrediting shortages. But nobody here seems to want to deal with facts - rather rhetoric and idle threats. Not to mention name calling.

    I am tired of the ILW/AILA/ITAA/NFAP Cabal distorting facts.
  10. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    You can keep saying there is no shortage, but the data doesn't back that up. But as George Costanza once said "It's not a lie if you believe it." Folks, remember the one thing about Roy - He'll challenge your patriotism and he'll challenge your motives. But he ultimately doesn't have facts to support his case. This is about one thing and one thing only - turf protection. Artificially create a shortage to inflate salaries and ensure less than qualified workers have jobs that they would not have in an open market. This is no different than any other form of protectionism. And every economist worth their salt will tell you that protectionism is bad for the consumers of the country even if it is helpful to the narrow interest being protected. Roy wants short term benefits for his buddies even if it ultimately hurts our economy and drives employers to ship the jobs overseas. Now watch how Roy attacks me rather than presents facts.
  11. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    By the way Roy, how's that blog of yours? Are your ideas catching on? You seem to have a lot of time to post over here so I assume your own blog must really be busy.
  12. R. Lawson's Avatar
    Siskind: "You can keep saying there is no shortage, but the data doesn't back that up. ... Now watch how Roy attacks me rather than presents facts."

    FACTS: --> Where the Engineers Are

    Siskind: "Now watch how Roy attacks me rather than presents facts."

    Greg, you mean attacks like these?

    Siskind: "But there are labor cartel members - the Programmer Guild, IEEE-USA and others"

    Siskind: "Roy wants short term benefits for his buddies even if it ultimately hurts our economy and drives employers to ship the jobs overseas."

    Pete: "Mr Lawson, You and your ilk ..."

    Anonymous: "Lawson you speak for yourself you dumbass"

    Legal: "Its good to see Roy Beck (I think R Lawson is him)posting on this site and whining."

    Siskind: "Folks, remember the one thing about Roy - He'll challenge your patriotism and he'll challenge your motives."

    You guys are a real class act.
  13. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Roy will trot out the same one or two researchers every time he's challenged on the facts. But the real facts are the unemployment statistics. Roy - Show us the numbers that back you up. And if you dislike us so much - we're a "cabal", lack "class", etc. - you're welcome to post on your own blog and win in the marketplace of ideas. How's that blog going Roy?
  14. R. Lawson's Avatar
    "How's that blog going Roy?"

    You'll see soon enough.

    If you look at the citations in any of the studies I mention, they are over page long. I seriously doubt you've read the studies.

    I have read every NFAP paper. In fairness, they are an easy read because they lack substance. The NFAP "studies" have very few citation - and many are dupes. It is the type of "research" that a freshman in college might submit. And they are full of fallacies.

    I put more stock in an academic study from Duke than a "study" released by a lobbyist group - er I mean individual.
  15. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Hmmm... You must have missed the question Roy. Point to some real data - Department of Labor data - supporting your contention that there is no shortage. Don't give me studies and then say they're obviously great because they come out of one professor at a decent school. Show me the numbers Roy. Actually, I know you well enough at this point to be able to tell readers that you have been scouring the numbers since I issued the challenge and have not been able to find anything helpful. So you're just ignoring the request. Folks, don't let him off the hook! Roy - What is the unemployment rate in IT? We're in a recession and what is the IT unemployment rate, Roy?
  16. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    By the way, the study Roy touts has some interesting findings that seem to not help his case so much. Here's one from the 1/08 report:

    In the United States, concern has been raised over the large proportion
    of graduate-level science and engineering degrees that are
    earned by foreign nationals. This preoccupation has been exacerbated
    in recent years because of the perception of an increased likelihood
    that these engineers may return to their home countries in response
    to new incentives to develop high-technology fields there.
    This "export" of the fruits of their American-earned education
    abroad for the benefit of other economies marks a reversal of the
    traditional international "brain drain" from which the U.S. hightechnology
    community has long benefited (Pollak, 1999).
    While engineering, CS, and IT degree production in the United
    States has been stable or increasing at all degree levels over the past
    ten years, a sizable percentage of these degrees are indeed being
    awarded to foreign nationals. Statistics collected by the ASEE on
    bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees in engineering indicate that
    during the 2005-06 academic year, 7.2 percent, 39.8 percent and
    61.7 percent of these degrees, respectively, were awarded to foreign
    nationals (Figure 4). As these figures indicate, the percentage of
    foreign nationals is significantly higher at the graduate level, especially
    for Ph.D. degrees.
    The high percentage of U.S. engineering degrees earned by foreign
    nationals becomes an even greater concern, however, if these
    individuals do not remain in the United States after they graduate.
    How many of these foreign degree-earners actually return to their
    home countries? According to research by Michael Finn from the
    Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, the number of
    Chinese and Indian nationals who received science and engineering
    doctorates from U.S. universities who were still in the United States
    five years after receiving these degrees was quite high--90 percent
    for Chinese and 86 percent for Indian graduates in 2003.
    By field, most of those areas with the longest five-year stay
    rates were all engineering-related: computer science (70 percent),
    computer/EE engineering (70 percent), and other engineering
    (67 percent) (Finn, 2005). These numbers, however, contain a
    significant time lag, since the 2003 statistics chart the stay rates of
    individuals who received their doctoral degrees in 1998. Given the
    changes in the U.S. visa system since 2001 and the rapid ascent of
    the Chinese and Indian economies, there are serious concerns that
    the U.S. visa landscape is greatly limiting the country's capacity to
    retain exceptional individuals once they graduate (Wadhwa, Jasso,
    Rissing, Gereffi and Freeman, 2007).
  17. immigrant's Avatar
    "There have been plenty of studies dicrediting shortages"

    Yeah whatever.

    Are you referring to those stupid Prof Norm Matloff studies?
    How much do you pay him for your cooked up studies. You blame Anderson. We can blame your experts who cook up studies to try and desperately prove their point and fail every time miserably.

    Why doesnt Programmers guiild, ALIPAC, FAIR etc disclose their full finances on their website with their donors? Lets see how upright you guys are
  18. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    Here are excerpts from the Wadwa 08/2007 paper. This is hardly helpful to Roy's case. In fact, I'd say this is one of the best studies I've seen in a while on why we need to make it EASIER for foreign nationals to get to and stay in the US:

    Our earlier papers, "America's New Immigrant
    Entrepreneurs" and "Entrepreneurship, Education,
    and Immigration: America's New Immigrant
    Entrepreneurs, Part II," documented that one in
    four engineering and technology companies
    founded between 1995 and 2005 had an
    immigrant founder. We found that these
    companies employed 450,000 workers and
    generated $52 billion in revenue in 2006.
    Indian immigrants founded more companies than
    the next four groups (from the United Kingdom,
    China, Taiwan, and Japan) combined. Furthermore,
    these companies' founders were very highly
    educated in science, technology, math, and
    engineering-related disciplines, with 96 percent
    holding bachelor's degrees and 75 percent holding
    master's or PhD degrees.2

    The analysis of the World Intellectual Property
    Organization (WIPO) database in this earlier work
    revealed that the percentage of foreign nationals
    contributing to U.S. international patent
    applications increased from an estimated 7.3
    percent in 1998 to 24.2 percent in 2006. The
    largest foreign-born group was from China
    (mainland and Taiwan). Indian nationals were
    second, followed by Canadians and the British. As
    the WIPO database records inventor nationality at
    the time of filing, these numbers do not include
    the contributions of immigrants who became U.S.
    citizens before filing patent applications.3

    Foreign nationals residing in the United States
    were named as inventors or co-inventors
    in 25.6 percent of international patent
    applications filed from the United States in
    2006. This represents an increase from
    7.6 percent in 1998.

    Foreign nationals and foreign residents
    contributed to more than half of the
    international patents filed by a number of
    large, multi-national companies.

    o In 2006, 16.8 percent of international patent
    applications from the United States had an
    inventor or co-inventor with a Chineseheritage
    name, representing an increase
    from 11.2 percent in 1998. The contribution
    of inventors with Indian-heritage names
    increased to 13.7 percent from 9.5 percent
    in the same period.
    o Chinese inventors tended to reside in
    California, New Jersey, and New York. Indian
    inventors chose California, New Jersey,
    and Texas.
    o Both Indian and Chinese inventors tended
    to file most patents in the fields of
    sanitation/medical preparations,
    pharmaceuticals, semiconductors,
    and electronics.

    Evidence from the "New Immigrant Survey"
    indicates that approximately one in five new legal
    immigrants and about one in three employment
    principals either plan to leave the United States or
    are uncertain about remaining. Moreover, media
    reports suggest that increasing numbers of skilled
    workers have begun to return home to countries
    like India and China where the economies are

    Given the substantial role of foreign-born
    residents in the United States in international
    patent creation, and the huge backlog in granting
    visas to employment-based principals, the
    potential exists for a reverse brain-drain of skilled
    workers who contribute to U.S. global

    Our estimates indicate that, as of the end
    of Fiscal Year 2006, there were about half
    a million employment-based principals
    awaiting LPR in the United States, and
    more than half a million family members.
    These numbers suggest that what has
    been viewed as a visa processing
    problem is actually--and formidably--a
    visa number problem. The approximately
    120,120 visas available annually are no
    match for a million persons in line.

    Finally, some commentators suggest that a
    portion of the demand for employment-based
    visas is generated by the ban on employment for
    spouses of H temporary workers. That is,
    employment-based principals adjusting from H
    worker visas may not intend to live permanently in
    the United States, but instead may desire to
    obtain work authorization for their spouses. If that
    is the case, then the three employment categories,
    which differ greatly in the proportions adjusting
    from H-1B (Table 8), also should differ in the
    intention to stay in the United States. Indeed,
    EB-2, which has the highest proportion adjusting
    from H-1B (89 percent), has the lowest proportion
    who intend to stay in the United States--
    48.8 percent. In EB-1 and EB-2, the proportions
    intending to stay are 60 percent and 73 percent,
    respectively. These figures contrast with
    76 percent among adjustee spouses of U.S.
    citizens and 86 percent among all other adult
    adjustee immigrants.

    In the global economy, America's greatest
    advantage is its ability to push the frontier of
    knowledge and its application. In contrast to
    current debates about trade, international capital
    flows, and illegal immigration, we have analyzed
    the role that highly educated immigrants to the
    United States have in creating knowledge and
    innovation. By combining evidence from several
    data sets, we illuminate this contribution, and
    then highlight the problems these immigrants face
    in attaining permanent status and the country's
    risk in losing some of them.
    1. Using data from WIPO, we find that in 2006,
    foreign nationals residing in the United States
    were inventors or co-inventors of one in four
    U.S. PCT applications--a more than three-fold
    increase over their proportion in 1998.
    2. Using data from U.S. immigration statistics,
    we estimate that more than half a million
    skilled immigrants are awaiting legal
    permanent employment status, and more
    than a million principals, including family
    members, are in this situation. The
    immigration backlog is not simply a visa
    processing problem--which government
    agencies are working to reduce--but a visa
    shortage problem: Only 120,000 or so visas
    are available annually for the million or
    so applicants.
    3. Using data from the "New Immigrant
    Survey," we estimate that, in 2003,
    approximately one in five new legal
    immigrants in the United States, and about
    one in three employment principals, either
    planned to leave the United States or were
    uncertain about remaining.

    We would expect that at least some of those
    who considered leaving have actually returned to
    their homelands. Though we don't know how
    many of those who have contributed to patents
    are discouraged by the visa process, we see no
    reason to expect them to be markedly different
    than other foreign residents working in the United
    States. Some are undoubtedly discouraged by the
    visa backlog and are considering leaving the
    United States. They constitute the possible
    "reverse brain-drain" of our title.

    The United States benefits from having foreignborn
    innovators create their ideas in the country.
    Their departures would, thus, be detrimental to
    U.S. economic well-being. And, when foreigners
    come to the United States, collaborate with
    Americans in developing and patenting new ideas,
    and employ those ideas in business in ways they
    could not readily do in their home countries, the
    world benefits. Therefore, foreign national
    departures from the United States also reduce
    global well-being.

    Given that the U.S. comparative advantage in
    the global economy is in creating knowledge and
    applying it to business, it behooves the country to
    consider how we might adjust policies to reduce
    the immigration backlog, encourage innovative
    foreign minds to remain in the country, and entice
    new innovators to come.

  19. R. Lawson's Avatar
    As I've said a hundred times, unemployment statistics aren't reliable. As of 3rd quarter of 2006 there was a net loss of software jobs:

    The question isn't if unemployment is average or if there is modest growth in IT. The question is if there is a shortage. A shortage would be indicated by the following factors:

    Rising salaries
    Rising employment
    Decreasing unemployment

    None of those three factors exist at this time. I don't know if you want to use unemployment to support your position - after all it is on the rise right now in IT. As we all know, it usually follows a recession but we are already starting to see it rise.

    I would also point out that every BLS estimate was later lowered when it came to IT job growth. Every estimate for the last 8 years was off by up to double.

    If you cherry pick data - which I'm sure you will - software engineering jobs are on the rise. However, it is offset by an almost equal reduction in programming jobs. I think the explanation is rather simple - people are changing their classification from programmer to software engineer.

    In short, there isn't massive job cuts at this time - the market is rather flat. Employment and unemployment remains steady, while salaries are falling slightly. Hardly a shortage.
  20. Greg Siskind's Avatar
    And where is the magic data in the Wadwa report you seem to bank on? I've been reading all four reports and all hurt your case. The one report that says we don't have an engineer shortage says that this is the case because of all the foreign engineers in the US workforce:

    "In the United States, close to 60% of engineering PhD degrees
    awarded annually are currently earned by foreign nationals,
    according to data from the American Society for Engineering

    Have you read these reports or not? Honestly Roy - show us the numbers. And to say employment data is not reliable sounds like sour grapes. You're asking Congress to enact protectionist legislation. The burden is on you to make the case. Otherwise, the market should be free.

    The report says we should couple H-1Bs with access to green cards. It is taking a position that we should make it EASIER for immigrants to get here and stay and is saying completely the opposite of what you preach.

    Finally, why do you make the argument for green cards instead of H-1Bs if you think these people shouldn't be coming in the first place? That part always strikes me as strange. You argue over and over again that we have too many foreign workers here and then you push for visas to allow them to come permanently. At least be consistent.
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