PDA

View Full Version : Baseball, technology and immigrants (Fortune article)


pellucid
04-05-2007, 04:31 PM
America embraces foreign-born ballplayers, but not engineers, much to the
dismay of big business, says Fortune's Marc Gunther.

By Marc Gunther, Fortune senior writer

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Imagine if the baseball season had begun this week
without such foreign-born stars as Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Justin
Morneau and the latest Japanese import, pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and his
mysterious "gyroball."

It wouldn't be as much fun, would it? Fans want to see the most skilled
players compete - immigrants and Americans.

So why is it that people don't want skilled immigrants to compete for jobs
in the multibillion-dollar technology industry?

They view these immigrants as a threat. CNN anchor Lou Dobbs argues
permitting more educated, foreign-born engineers, scientists and teachers
into the country would force many qualified American workers out of the job
market.

That may be true in baseball, where the number of jobs on big league rosters
is fixed. That's not necessarily so in technology, where people with skills
and ambition help expand job opportunities. Immigrants helped start Sun
Microsystems, Intel (Charts), Yahoo! (Charts), eBay (Charts) and Google (
Charts). Would America be better off if they'd stayed home?

"This is not about filling jobs that would go to Americans," says Robert
Hoffman, an Oracle (Charts) vice president and co-chair of a business
coalition called Compete America, which favors allowing more skilled workers
into the United States. "This is important to create jobs. It's not a zero
sum game."

This week, as it happens, is not just opening week of the baseball season.
It's the week when employers rush to apply for the limited number of visas,
called H-1B visas, that became available on April 1 to allow them to
temporarily hire educated, foreign-born workers. This year, Congress has
allowed 65,000 of these H-1B visas, plus another 20,000 for foreign-born
students who earn advanced degrees from U.S. universities. After obtaining
guest-worker visas, employees can then seek green cards that allow them to
stay in the United States

FedEx and UPS did a brisk business last weekend because the visas are
awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. The first 65,000 are already
gone. The 20,000 earmarked for graduates of U.S. universities will be
distributed in a month or two, experts say.

This makes it very hard for companies to hire foreign-born graduates of the
U.S.'s top schools. More than half the graduate students in science and
engineering at U.S. universities were born overseas.

"It's sending a signal to the best international students that they may not
want to make their career in the United States," says Stuart Anderson,
executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a
research group. (Anderson, an immigration specialist, also wrote a study of
baseball and immigration that's available here as a PDF file.)

Expanding H1-B visas is a top priority for U.S. tech firms. Bill Gates,
Microsoft's (Charts) chairman, told Congress last month: "I cannot overstate
the importance of overhauling our high-skilled immigration system....
Unfortunately, our immigration policies are driving away the world's best
and brightest precisely when we need them most."

CNN's Lou Dobbs was unimpressed. "The Gates plan would force many qualified
American workers right out of the job market," he fretted on the air after
Gates testified. "There's something wrong when a man as smart as Bill Gates
advances an elitist agenda, without regard to the impact that he's having on
working men and women in this country."

It's not just Dobbs. Internet bulletin boards and blogs are filled with
complaints about foreign-born engineers. The U.S. branch of the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the leading society of engineers,
brought about 60 engineers to Washington last month to ask for reforms to
the H-1B program. IEEE-USA supports a bill proposed by Senators Dick Durbin,
an Illinois Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, that is
designed to crack down on companies that use the guest worker program to
displace Americans from jobs.

As it happens, most of the largest users of the H1-B program are not
American companies but foreign firms that want to move jobs out of the
United States. Seven of the 10 firms that requested the most H1-B visas in
2006 were outsourcing firms based in India, which use the visas to train
workers in the United States before they are rotated home, according to Ron
Hira, an engineer who teaches public policy at the Rochester Institute of
Technology. Indian outsourcing firms Wipro and Infosys were the two top
requestors of H1-B visas.

In a paper for the Economic Policy Institute, Hira says that expanding H-1B
visas without improving controls will "lead to more offshore outsourcing of
jobs, displacement of American technology workers (and) decreased wages and
job opportunities" for Americans. He told me: "Bill Gates talks about how
you are shutting out $100,000-a-year software engineers. But if you look at
the median wage for new H1-B workers, it's closer to $50,000."

Asked about that, Jack Krumholtz, who runs Microsoft's Washington office,
said the average salary for Microsoft's H1-B workers is more than $109,000,
and that the company spends another $10,000 to $15,000 per worker applying
for the visas and helping workers apply for green cards. "We only hire
people who we want to have on our team for the long run," he said.

It seems clear that Microsoft - along with Oracle, Intel, Hewlett Packard
and other members of the Compete America coalition - do not use the guest
worker program to hire cheap labor. They just want to hire the best
engineers, many of whom are foreign born.

So what to do? Everyone seems to agree that the H1-B program needs fixing. (
Even Hira, the critic, says the United States should absorb more high-
skilled immigrants.) Whether Congress can fix it is questionable. The guest-
worker program is tied up in the debate over broader immigration reforms.

But guess what? Just last year, Congress passed the Compete Act of 2006,
which stands (sort of) for "Creating Opportunities for Minor League
Professions, Entertainers and Teams through Legal Entry." Yes, that law made
it easier for baseball teams to get visas for foreign-born minor league
players.

If the government can fix the problem for baseball, surely it can do so for
technology, too.

Alabaman
04-05-2007, 04:57 PM
Nice Article... hits the nail on the head!! I wish it also highlighted the need for high skilled immigrants to be able to get GCs easily too.

Karthikthiru
04-05-2007, 07:40 PM
http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/apr2007/db20070405_778533.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index

tdasara
04-06-2007, 08:41 AM
IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF BALL PLAYERS IN US???

In December 2006, a law was passed to ensure Minor League Ball players get their greencard in 6 months!!

Minor League players == no education, no English, just plays ball!!

chanukya
04-06-2007, 09:31 AM
I think its high time, we step in and say enough of this excessive outsourcing, India has created more than enough jobs in India, ecomomy has grown to a very good level.

There should be a Fair level playing field for everybody, unfortunately not only Americans, the very Indians, who have struggled countless hours and sacrificed so many things and made a mark in US with thier technological hardwork are loosing to this big outsourcing companies.

The very reason of initial H1B people coming to US, for a good standard of living is slowly being lost becuase of this excessive outsourcing.




"As it happens, most of the largest users of the H1-B program are not
American companies but foreign firms that want to move jobs out of the
United States. Seven of the 10 firms that requested the most H1-B visas in
2006 were outsourcing firms based in India, which use the visas to train
workers in the United States before they are rotated home, according to Ron
Hira, an engineer who teaches public policy at the Rochester Institute of
Technology. Indian outsourcing firms Wipro and Infosys were the two top
requestors of H1-B visas."

ItIsNotFunny
04-06-2007, 01:41 PM
Very good article. Last few days we are getting some encouraging attention from high profile people. Let's get benefit out of it.

leoindiano
04-06-2007, 01:52 PM
How about this?

If a company located outside of united states, it cannot apply for more than 300 H1B's? I heard WIPRO and INFOSYS applied 6000 each this year