Sunday, April 13, 2008

What About High-Skill Immigration Zones?

PITTSBURGH--Last year was bad. This year, even worse -- a crush of applications, but a dearth of H-1B visas awarded to employers who say they need to import educated foreign workers to occupy high-tech positions that can't be filled by American workers.

This month, companies across the U.S. began filing petitions for 85,000 available work visas, which will be awarded through a random lottery. Last year, 133,000 petitions were received over two days in April before closing the application window. This year, immigration services accepted petitions for a full business week starting April 1, meaning the number of petitions could exceed 200,000.

The limitations are especially crippling to cities such as Pittsburgh, many businesses here argue, because drawing an educated immigrant class is the city's best short-term hope for population and economic growth, since the native-born population keeps dropping.

What if the cap remained in place across most of the country but was lifted for places that are lagging economically -- Detroit, Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh? It's a strategy being bounced around by think tanks and immigration advocates. Immigration lawyer Richard T. Herman says we should call them "High-Skill Immigration Zones," patterning the relief from H-1B caps after a similar visa program that allows foreign investors to plant their money more easily in economically "distressed" regions.

See related CD post: Help NOT Wanted in US: National Self-Sabotage

7 Comments:

At 4/13/2008 11:50 PM, Anonymous Ryan said...

That sounds like a great plan actually. Pretty clever too. Let's hope the powers that be go for it and this infusion of high-powered talent spurs growth, even despite the self-harming policies of the Rust-Belt governments. If this happens I suspect the positive examples would be almost too much for the etatists and protectionists to handle.

 
At 4/14/2008 2:22 AM, OpenID sethstorm said...

This would ignore developing the talent pool of the area. Also, this would only encourage an unnatural amount of H1B work. That is, it would introduce work only sustained by the law firms that find every way to disqualify citizens(that are otherwise qualified).

This kind of thing will not happen in the short term, and perhaps not the medium-long term. This is akin to jumping in a pool of sharks with a gushing wound. Go ahead and throw the idea out into the water. Don't be surprised by the results.

Develop the citizens that are displaced(not limited to, but including by trade, automation or economic policy) first. That means you do what you must to make them suitable. That method will only be accepted if it works with them (and perhaps allows a few deserving hits at business), what they have, and with the terms they require.

 
At 4/14/2008 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My concern is the same as what happened in the tech boom. The economy enters into a downturn and you have all these people you gave visas for 6 years. Then you can't get rid of the immigrants and citizens are out of jobs.

Also, I question the true shortages of workers in some fields. Companies are going to declare shortages just to get cheaper workers.

 
At 4/14/2008 2:13 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Develop the citizens that are displaced(not limited to, but including by trade, automation or economic policy) first. That means you do what you must to make them suitable. That method will only be accepted if it works with them (and perhaps allows a few deserving hits at business), what they have, and with the terms they require"...

What is this? Something YOU are volunteering to pay for?

"Also, I question the true shortages of workers in some fields. Companies are going to declare shortages just to get cheaper workers"...

This is just anecdotal...

I know someone who's been in the head hunting business for a little over twenty years...

According to her the crying need for people well grounded in sciences and mathematics is quite high but for the last ten or so years the pool of Americans filling the bill has dropped off dramatically...

All types of engineering, computer forensics, and computer modelers are in very high demand by domestic companies...

My pal has most of her business running from Chicago to Houston and most points in between...

 
At 4/14/2008 5:08 PM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

Well, it is better than nothing. But even better would be opening up America for anyone with skills who can pass a background check.

Even better for the cities mentioned would be if their respective state capitals stopped shooting them in the foot. Make New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan right to work states and eliminate their corporate taxes. They'll have a labor shortage in no time.

 
At 4/15/2008 7:29 PM, Blogger bobble said...

juandos: "This is just anecdotal...

I know someone who's been in the head hunting business for a little over twenty years... According to her . . . ."

uh, juandos, that's also an anecdotal . . .

 
At 4/18/2008 10:15 PM, OpenID sethstorm said...

re: Happyjuggler0
"Right to Work" is a nonstarter here. Seeing what happens to the worker afterwards(in terms of losing power), not going to happen.
Those states will have to be fully depopulated of any support.

It's very hard to win back support of people who view "business friendly" as backstabbing. They've seen it happen to multiple levels (blue collar work in 1980s/1990s, IT work in 2003 onward).

If there was no problem with work, people would not be driven to unions as a solution. Firms like The Burke Group, Grigsby & Cohen, and others only fan the flames. It doesn't help the image either when you bring in agitators such as Vance International during good faith negotiations.

re: Juandos

What is this? Something YOU are volunteering to pay for?

Well, that was a bit implied.
However, that's something that you would probably be at odds with. Consider it as a "long-term investment" in the people that are already there. These are people who know quality and attention to detail.

 

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