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Is U.S. Immigration System Broken?

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Add the AeA -- formerly known as the American Electronics Association -- to the list of folks who would like to make it easier for skilled foreign workers and U.S.-educated students to gain U.S. employment by obtaining temporary work visas and green cards.

 

The issue of foreign worker employment is highlighted in the AeA's latest study, a follow-up to a report from two years ago, starkly titled "Losing the Competitive Advantage."

 

Backing up the AeA's position in a recent SiliconValley.com article is the CEO of a California software company, who has firsthand experience with employees struggling to get green cards. He says:

The irony is that after five or six years, we're sending these people back who immediately found their own companies and become our stiffest competition.

Also mentioned in the AeA's report is the strong performance of countries like South Korea and China, whose educational systems produce more undergraduate engineering degrees than the U.S., lackluster government support for R&D, and falling math scores of American students.

 

The AeA isn't the only technology association pushing immigration reforms that would make it easier for U.S. companies to employ non-natives. The VP of TechNet, a lobbying group for technology companies, says the current immigration system is "archaic" and "not consistent or structured in such a way that it fits business practices and models."

 

We haven't seen the AeA's full report, so we don't know if it specifically mentions the controversial H-1B visas. But even the IEEE-USA, one of the staunchest foes of H-1Bs, is proposing to make it easier for skilled foreigners to live and work in the U.S. The twist: It contends the best approach to keeping such folks in the country is by making it simpler for them to become citizens, not by awarding more H-1Bs.

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