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Endorsement from Author Richard Florida Print E-mail

Richard Florida, one of the world's leading social theorists and author of the bestselling book The Rise of the Creative Class, believes that human creativity is the engine of economic growth. In his latest book, The Flight of the Creative Class, pegs the global competition for talent as the defining economic issue of the modern world economy - and the corresponding need to build more inclusive creative societies, which tap and reward the creativity of all, as the biggest challenge presented by this economy.

Below is  a letter from him urging the lawmakers to change legislation that will allow for easier path to permanent residence for the High Skilled Immigrants and endorsing the efforts of Immigration Voice.

 


 

Dear Member of the Congress:

As we begin a new year 2006 in the midst of changes taking place in the country and around the world, America's competitive edge in attracting and retaining world best talent and brightest minds that has kept America the shining beacon of technology and economic might is at a risk not seen in decades.

For several decades, America has kept its doors open to greatest minds in the world and they have contributed richly to the economic and scientific supremacy of our nation in numerous ways. America's immigration program that allows graduates, post-graduates and researchers from around to world to seek work and permanent home in America has provided a steady stream of the talent that American employers, universities and research institutes need to retain a competitive edge over the rest of the world.

In the past year, several legislative measures that congress passed have slowly but certainly diminished this supply of talent and created an unwelcome environment for those who are already living and working here legally and occupy jobs that spur innovation and economic expansion. As of October 1, 2005 the State department has set the clock backward to the wait for employment based permanent residence also known as "Green Cards" for thousands of skilled professionals from India, China and Philippines.

Latest example of such anti legal immigration legislation for the hi-tech workers is the recent defeat of provisions in the House of Representatives that could have eliminated the wait time for these legal immigrants to obtain their permanent residency. As a result, there is no relief for hi-tech immigrants, most of who have been working in United States for several years on visas granted for specialty occupations and have to wait another 5-6 years before they obtain their Green Cards. This delay and unpredictability puts an undue strain on the national economy by making the available pool of hi-tech talent smaller. Such delays also make them unable to seek better employers, relocate to a city of their choice, prevent their American dream of home ownership and obtain a work-permit for their spouses (some of whom are even MBA, PHD and other higher education in different fields from best universities in US and the world). It puts their life on hold for several years during the most productive period of their lifetime superficially reducing their ability to contribute to local business, hi-tech innovation and the national economy.

If the US businesses are not able to retain these productive, innovative and sharp minds, the overseas competitors will. The restrictive and slow employment-based immigration is harmful to the national interest When business in US hire best talent in the world, this talented workforce goes through training, conditioning, knowledge, skills, and experience during their the 5-6 years time when this hi-tech class of H-1 B workers are on temporary work visa in US. The restrictive and slow employment-based immigration is discouraging and driving away the talented workforce who has already been conditioned to contribute in the hi-tech industry. Such a loss, coupled with decreasing interest in math and science among the native born students creates a perfect storm that will create an acute shortage of talented individuals who have enabled the roaring growth and prosperity both economically and technologically. Other developed nations like Canada, Australia, UK and other EU nations have learned from us and have relaxed their laws to allow immigration for hi-tech talent to tap into the creative abilities of the H-1 B class. In the new world order, we are competing with these nations and our businesses are competing with international businesses for this hi-tech workforce and human capital which is in short supply.

On behalf of several talented immigrants and their organizations, I urge you to spur immigration reform for legal immigrants at the earliest in order to offer a permanent home to hundreds of thousands of foreign workers who are already here legally and are contributing heavily to our growth and progress in technology and innovation. Frankly speaking, America has had a lead in being a magnet for the best and the brightest in the world and the fight for this "Human Capital" is America's to lose. For this reason as an economist and citizen of this great nation I endorse the efforts of Immigration Voice (web address: http://www.immigrationvoice.org), an organization working towards legislative solution to recent retrogression in employment based immigration.

Most of my thoughts on this issue may also be found in my book "Flight of the creative class - The new global competition for talent'. I would very much look forward to working with members of congress and the administration on this issue. Please contact me if I may be of any assistance.

Sincerely.


Richard Florida.

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