We hear constantly about immigration and the problems immigrants create. But the media overlook one of our worst immigration policies: how America rejects skilled immigrants who want to come to the U.S. legally.
Immigrants are just 12% of the U.S. population, yet they helped start most of silicon valley's technology companies. Google, Intel, eBay, and Yahoo were all co-founded by immigrants. Those companies employ about 130,000 Americans. What if America had not let their founders in?
But American immigration policy now tells lots of smart people: "no, you may not work here." More than half a million people are on waiting lists for green cards. A Forbes analysis of State Department waiting lists found that an Indian computer programmer who applies for a green card would have to wait 35 years. A South African computer programmer has it better, but he still has to wait 6 years.
The result of the immigration backlog? In 2007, Microsoft opened a software center in Canada, which was used “to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S."
On my show tonight, I interview Dindipi Nath, an Indian programmer who worked in the US for 10 years and wants to stay. Dindipi says: “It took immigration so long to respond, by the time they did, the company I worked for was out of business.” Then, he says, they rejected his application because his employer was no longer around to answer questions.
Dindipi has appealed, but he is no longer allowed to work in the US and will soon be deported if the appeal fails.
Dindipi says:“America would lose a big talent like me. I work hard… I paid my income tax. I have my house. I paid my mortgage on time. I paid my property taxes on time. I speak 14 languages. And that's really an expertise in the area that I work…”
Keeping skilled people out sure doesn’t help America.