Nobel Prizes Help Illustrate Need for Immigration Reform

Ann All

Back in July I wrote about the need for immigration reform, citing a recent study by Duke University's Vivek Wadhwa, which found that an increasing number of people who come to America to get their PhDs and other advanced degrees choose to go back to their home countries rather than remain in the U.S. due to the difficulty in obtaining a green card.


The reaction of quite a few people, of course, is good riddance. As you can see from the comments on my post, many readers seem to connect this study with H-1B visas rather than the separate issue of incredibly bright folks who want to live and work in the U.S. for a long time, maybe permanently. As one commenter wrote:


India needs talented people -- why do they come here? Build your own countries first, we do not elect a president, govenor, mayor-etc to worry about foreign workers. This is the last thing that we should worry about. AMERICA UNITE AGAINT BOTH LEGAL & ILLEGAL WORKERS.


Yet it's hard to ignore the fact that many exceptional people, most of our ancestors included, came here from somewhere else. For proof, look no further than this year's Nobel Prize winners. Yes, six of them are American, but four of them weren't born here, points out Mercury News columnist Chris O'Brien. One of them, Australian native Elizabeth Blackburn, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco, who shared the Nobel Prize for medicine with two other researchers, said "... the flow of intellectual ideas is crucial. To have borders for it seems counterproductive."


This is an especially important issue in Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the technology industry, because it "has been a bigger beneficiary of this influx of brains and talent than perhaps any other region in the U.S.," writes O'Brien. According to a study produced by Wadhwa and other researchers from Duke University and the University of California-Berkeley, 52 percent of Silicon Valley companies have at least one foreign-born founder.


Yes, the number of U.S. college students majoring in computer science grew in 2008 for the first time since the dot-com bust, and that's a great thing. Some of those students will undoubtedly go on to be quite successful, perhaps even some of them on Blackburn's level. We should do all we can to put more U.S. children on that path. But does it make sense to make it tough on talented foreigners who want to relocate here, as we do now? Other countries are trying points-based immigration programs and systems that focus on desired job skills. Could an approach like that work here?


Editor's Note -- Due to repeated violations of our terms of service, we have turned off the Comments feature on this post. Regrets to our readers who have contributed constructively to the conversation.

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Oct 7, 2009 8:29 AM P Henry P Henry  says:

In the interest of full disclosure, why don't you come clean as to who really pays your salary and why you are so adamant about the need for cheap, foreign labor?  When I read something like this which is obviously intended to confuse the H-1B issue, I wonder how many pieces of silver you were paid to sell out fellow workers.  No one is denying that talented foreign LEGAL IMMIGRANTS have contributed greatly to America.  Of course, you would like to lump them in with low level IT workers for IBM and Infosys who comprise the VAST majority of H-1B holders.  I got news for you, no one is buying the lies and propaganda anymore.

FACT: the salary of Information Technology workers has declined since the H-1B visa program which destroys the premise that there is a shortage.  Of course, all you have to do is look in the classifieds of any newspaper but you must think Americans are too stupid to figure this out.

Oct 7, 2009 8:32 AM abc abc  says:

"But does it make sense to make it tough on talented foreigners who want to relocate here, as we do now?"

How do we make it tough now compared to when these Nobel Prize winners immigrated? I believe that at the time these Nobel Prize winners in question moved to the U.S., yearly immigration levels were only a fraction of what they are now. And back then the U.S. did NOT have hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals per year coming in on temporary work visas. So in general it seems that we made it tougher to relocate here back then than we do now! It seems to indicate that any problem that exists is only in the selection process.

Oct 7, 2009 8:36 AM abc abc  says:

...and when I wrote "yearly immigration levels" above, I meant just LEGAL yearly immigration levels.

Oct 7, 2009 9:09 AM Sebastian Sebastian  says:

There is absolutely no limit on the O Visa for exceptional abilities. Also, one can self apply without depending on an employer.

Ann, why is this not enough?

Oct 7, 2009 9:22 AM abc abc  says:

... and EB green cards can also fast-track a skilled immigrant with truly exceptional abilities...

Oct 7, 2009 9:57 AM EngiNERD EngiNERD  says:

???    How did  we  survive  the period from  1925-65   with  greatly  reduced   immigration.   OOOH,  OOH  we  still were able to bring in some of the best/brightest  foreign professionals,   many of whom  worked  on the Manhattan Project, the Space Program.   How did we do it ?  We  created much of our modern  technological society with  greatly reduced immigration.   Now it seems  American are a bunch of dummies and we need to invite much of the world to keep us strong/ technologically advanced.       I don't get it!

Oct 7, 2009 10:18 AM Bart Bart  says:

The H-1B visa is absolutely the worst way to gather the world's talent. The vast, vast majority of H-1Bs are ordinary workers with common skill sets. Often they displace American workers. In addition, there is a shockingly high rate of reported credential fraud and other problems with H-1Bs. To bring in hundreds of thousands of H-1Bs (remember that many institution's H-1Bs don't count against the yearly cap) on the off chance of getting an Einstein or two has been horrible for the American worker. Ten years now of flooding our labor pool with rank-and-file workers in hopes of striking gold has proved to be a bad bargain for America. Was it better before or now? The results are in.

Oct 7, 2009 10:37 AM Ivan Ivan  says:

The H1B workers should not be tied to one employee, and must have a 6 months route to obtaining a permanent residency. A complete reworking of our immigration laws is a must, and cannot wait any longer.

I feel like so many Americans are afraid of competition, of learning another language, improving themselves and entering the XXI century. Too bad noone is asking them, and if they don't adapt, they will be left out in the cold. And, of course they will blame the "other" for their failures in life, "The other" being anyone who doesn't look and talk like them. shame on you, Billy Bob. And, by the way, you have already lost this battle, you just don't know it yet...

Oct 7, 2009 10:42 AM Bart Bart  says: in response to Ivan

This comment is nothing but racist abuse and stereotyping of Americans. The commented either hasn't noticed or doesn't bother to mention how many Americans are pursuing continuing education and skills training constantly. How else could our land be dotted with colleges and training schools? I work for a world famous American scientific research university, and the notion that foreigners are taking home all the advanced STEM degrees is nonsense. The main difference between the foreign and domestic students is that the American students are not being hired in their own country, but the foreign students are.

Oct 7, 2009 10:53 AM @Ivan @Ivan  says: in response to Ivan

Instead of hurling insults at Americans and evoking your opinion about Americans, you could have responded to specific facts that the other commenters have brought up. Too bad. And why should U.S. citizens and voters want H-1Bs (I assume you mean all H-1Bs regardless of qualifications) to have such a quick 6 month route to obtaining  permanent residency? That would just be one-sided Nirvana for H-1Bs who wanted to immigrate to America, and disastrous numerical competition for the incumbent American workers.

Oct 7, 2009 12:06 PM Bobo Bobo  says: in response to @Ivan


1182. Inadmissible aliens

(5) Labor certification and qualifications for certain immigrants

(A) Labor certification

In general, any alien who seeks to enter the United States for the purpose of performing skilled or unskilled labor is inadmissible, unless the Secretary of Labor has determined and certified to the Secretary of State and the Attorney General that-

(I) there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified

(or equally qualified in the case of an alien described in clause (ii)) and available at the time of application for a visa and admission to the United States and at the place where the alien is to perform such skilled or unskilled labor, and

(II) the employment of such alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.

(ii) Certain aliens subject to special rule For purposes of clause

(I), an alien described in this clause is an alien who-

(I) is a member of the teaching profession, or

(II) has exceptional ability in the sciences or the arts.

Oct 7, 2009 12:15 PM James James  says:

Do you really expect us to believe that one Indian Nobel prize winner in 30 years represents all immigrants? Why, whenever an Indian national receives a prize is there always an American attached to the project? It's the Khosla effect: 3 out of 4 Sun Microsystems founders were whites (2 Americans, 1 German, 1 Indian). Yet everyone always gives Vinod Khosla all the credit and Scott McNeally who was founder and CEO for 25 years is never mentioned. Correct me if I am wrong, but there has never been a case of an Indian recipient or founder doing anything on his or her own without the help of Americans. And why didn't the author mention the two Americans who won the prize in biology yesterday? Given the MILLIONS of allegedly brilliant scientists we are importing from India, shouldn't ALL the Nobel Prize winners be from India? For every one prize winner we import, we are importing 100,000 fakers with fake degrees and no skills. If all these foreign "brains" are so smart then why does CA have the highest unemployment rate and why is the CA gov't going bankrupt? The fact is the vast majority of these imports are living off the work and success American IT workers created in the 1990s.They are cleaning out our economy. Where are the 20 million new jobs created by imported workers since 1998? We've LOST 12-14 million good jobs since these people started arriving. Don't use the excuse of one or two exceptions to represent the whole immigrant population: the vast majority of them are destructive.

Oct 7, 2009 12:20 PM Chris Chris  says:

Most of our ancestors came from civilized European countries, not from India where human sacrifice is still practiced and people think drinking cow urine is a health benefit. The mass invasion of MILLIONS of H-1B workers since 1998 has devastated our economy. In 1998 when Americans were running Silicon Valley we created the biggest economic boom in American history. Now that H-1Bs have taken over Silicon Valley and won't hire Americans the economy is a wreck isn't it? Can anyone name one new product or industry that has come out of India in 500 years that anyone uses. Americans create all the new industries, the rest of the world gets to enjoy the benefits. And what do American workers get for giving all this to the world? Unemployment. Get these people out of our country before we have no country left at all.

If these immigrants are so smart then why are they being trained by Americans?

Oct 7, 2009 3:44 PM @the Antis harping about the o-1 being @the Antis harping about the o-1 being" enough"  says:

Wow you losers lack logic, no wonder you get replaced by foreigners.

You get/qualify getting the o-1 Visa AFTER you win the Nobel, NOT before, so by not letting them enter the country ( which they do through H1B or other work visas) you're killing the chance of them ever innovating.

Oct 7, 2009 5:02 PM NJ NJ  says: in response to @the Antis harping about the o-1 being" enough"

Don't flatter the antis by overestimating their number. There're 2 idiots who go around posing as a variety of stereotypically white guys like Chris and James. Note how they steer a conversation about the need for easier immigration for extraordinary talent to an exercise in India-bashing.

The average American is quite sensible and competitive. The H-1B was definitely overdone until this year, when accountability has finally risen. I think there's definitely merit in pointing out that the O Visa and the fast track EB programs exist to make immigration easier. What's unfortunately lost under the surface is the number of MS/PhDs who are often forced into the slowest EB tracks due to the verbiage in how the jobs they work for were advertised/posted.

A point-based system would be the way to go. By awarding higher weights to achievements such as graduate degrees (even granulated by the ranking of the American school the degree is from), the salary being earned, the amount and quality of published research and even for aspects such as the price of homes being bought (which means the immigrant truly invests in the American dream), immigration should be fast-tracked for the truly deserving and the ones keenest to assimilate.

This is indeed a land of immigrants, but in a sensible and measured in-flow of people lies the harmony of a truly richer nation and deserving new citizens who ought to scale heights greater than in any other country.

Oct 7, 2009 5:09 PM Nobel Prizes Help Illustrate Need to abandon H-1B Nobel Prizes Help Illustrate Need to abandon H-1B  says:

Ann, here are the facts you don't want your readers to know:

1. None of Nobel price winner was on H-1B guest worker visa.

2. We want immigrants bringing in capitals and technologies to boost our economy, like the Nobel Price winners, but not H-1B guest workers that take away our jobs.

3. We had imported over 4 million guest workers over last decade.  No single one Nobel price winner can be found among those guest workers.

4. H-1B guest visa is a tool for white collar slaves and haman trafficking.  Ann, be careful,  editor or writer is not immune from the cheap labor infestation.

Ann, before you show your ignorance next time, please go visit desicruch.com or endh1b.com.

Oct 7, 2009 5:22 PM Yawn@Antis propaganda Yawn@Antis propaganda  says: in response to Nobel Prizes Help Illustrate Need to abandon H-1B

Each of those Noble Prize winners were on the H-1B , before they got their GreenCard, nice try though.

Oct 7, 2009 5:48 PM Debug Debug  says:

Whoever wrote this did not do any due diligence?  The Americans that won the Nobel Peace Prize spent most of their grown lives in the U.S.   In fact they spent more of their lifetime as U.S. Citizens.  As such they are more American than their ethnicity.

In fact his whole article is racist and against American values.

Oct 7, 2009 6:44 PM @Dufferbug @Dufferbug  says: in response to Debug

Becoming an American Citizen doesn't change your intellectual capability or capacity, its just a change of papers (passport), the fact of the matter is that they were real smart immigrants from other country who got a chance to explore and further their talent in the US to its fullest capacity, thats the point the author is trying to make.

But again close minded racists nativists like you wont ever get that, all the more reason to bring in talent from abroad.

Oct 8, 2009 8:04 AM Tunnel Rat Tunnel Rat  says: in response to NJ

Keep acting paranoid, Mr. Guest Worker, aka "ghetto canine".    There are not one or two "antis" as you call them, there are thousands of Americans that have your I.P. and email address.  We know who you are and who you work for. 

Your days are numbered, scab.  You will soon be investigated by the DHS and your employer will be audited by the EEOC and DOJ. 

Pack your bags, you feral creep.  We have had enough of your kind, with their wife-burning, female-infant killing, negro-hating ways.  We have packs of Mexican gangs now targeting you curry-scented vermin.

We know you have tried to import your vile caste culture to our shores, and have paid off whores like Ann All to pedal your lies.  We don't want to live and work with you misogynist bigots, who cant write, speak, or code.  We piss in your tea daily, and slash the tires of beat-up cars that you drive.  We follow you scum back to the extended-stay motel and track all of your movements, and pass the info back to our friends in MS-13, who you call "violent illegal aliens from Mexico"

That is correct, maderchod.  We pass on all you your filthy slurs against the Latinos, and let them take care of you.  Your competition for legal status in the U.S. loses to the Latinos that have become part of our American culture.  You disgusting Indians now make up the second largest group of illegal aliens in America, and we will take the Mexicans any day over you.

As for Ann All, STFU, you slumdog sycophant.

You get a fast track to hell, cow-worshiping low-life.

Oct 8, 2009 8:48 AM Slumdogs Will Die Slumdogs Will Die  says:

Hahaha.   An Indian pimp running a Desi bodyshop is killed in Australia.  Coming soon to America.


WTF?  "At times, he had 15 to 20 people staying in his house," Iddles added.

Man, we have tons of these Indian Pimps in New Jersey, with their "guest houses".  Business Week just exposed this scam:



How does it feel, Ann, to be aiding the High-Tech Slave Traders?

And what do you tell that little boy in your Facebook profile about your career?



What will you tell him him when he can't get a job in I.T. because the Indians have ethnically cleansed all Americans out of the STEM professions?

You know what the Jews did to the collaborators after the Germans were defeated?  They cut their hair off.

Get used to being bald.

Oct 8, 2009 9:20 AM Kevin Fayraf Kevin Fayraf  says:

I am  a big fat pussy racist, who hides behind is keyboard and cusses Indians, but in reality i am SHIT SCARED of them.  Please Indians, be nice to me, i'd been abused as a child hence i feel the need to talk like a pussy and act racist behind the key board.  In real i know you guys can kick my ASS at will.

Please punch me if you see me, i deserve it

Much Appreciated.

Oct 8, 2009 10:42 AM Bobo Bobo  says:

Someone needs to inform Ms All about all the great American companies and research labs DESTROYED by mass invasion of immigrant labor (mostly from India, Inc.): PeopleSoft, Sun Micro (taken over by highly skilled immigrant workers from India & China in 2001 and now losing $150 million a MONTH), Lehman (bought Wipro Spectramind trading software which caused bad trades - failed), GM (was booming in 2006 but outsourced to Wipro in 2006 and went bankrupt 3 years later), AIG (outsourced to India, Inc), Enron (hired lots of H-1Bs), Boeing (787 Dreamliner years late due to bad HCL software from India), MIT (had to close Media Lab Asia project in India when Indian managers there inflated invoices), Quark (taken over by Alukh Kamar in 2003 who sent all the work to India which caused Quark to lose 60% of their biz to Adobe - he later got fired), Apple CLOSED all their R&D in India is 2006 and now they are BOOMING, Microsoft employs 30,000 H-1Bs (who created Vista which no one wants - MS stock dropped from $110 to $25 after hiring H-1Bs), Vodaphone in UK (was taken over by an Indian CEO and is losing money, but not before the CEO walked out with $40 million in compensation), Citigroup (run by Pandit - had to be bailed out by American taxpayers to keep it in open), AMD (ruined by India, Inc.), Intel Whitefield processor project (canceled in India due to fake Indian "engineer" resumes), ComAir (100% India, Inc. IT staff used a short int when they should have used a long int and the counting error shut down U.S. airports nationwide on 12/25/05). And the biggest one of them all: BELL LABS (taken over by Arun Netravalli in 2003 which was DESTROYED and is now being turned into a SHOPPING MALL). I could go on but I am sure Ms. All gets the point by now. Mass immigration from the 3rd world is killing us. And BTW, the Indian Nobel winner couldn't have been on H-1B when he came here - that was 1976 and H-1B didn't start until 1990. And you thought all Americans were stupid and don't know what's going on. We know exactly what India, Inc.'s modus operandi is.

Oct 8, 2009 5:24 PM Indian Rapists Indian Rapists  says:

These are the people we are importing by the millions to take American jobs:


Perhaps Ms. All will get a chance to meet her patrons in NASSCOM and TiE up close and personal. 

We can only hope.


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