Obama’s immigration policy may backfire

March 23, 2009

If proof were needed that the Obama government’s recent curbs on H-1B visas might cast a long shadow on the already darkened clouds hovering over the US economy, log in to this study done by Duke University professor and Harvard researcher Vivek Wadhwa titled “Losing the World’s Best and Brightest: America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Part V,” Wadhwa and his team surveyed 1,224 foreign nationals studying in the US and those who graduated last year.

The researchers found that “Amidst all the controversy surrounding the US immigration policy, the Obama government has not bothered to determine how or exactly how much these immigrants continue to contribute to the US economy, Wadhwa et al found that “Foreign students receive nearly 60 percent of all engineering doctorates and more than half of all mathematics, computer sciences, physics and economics doctorates awarded in the United States.”

Therefore, in a sense, “these foreign nationals end up making jobs, not taking jobs,” says Wadhwa in a mail to Sree Srinivasan, professor of journalism in Columbia University and co-founder of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA).

“They bring insights into growing global markets and fresh ideas. Research has shown that they even end up boosting innovation by U.S. inventors. Losing them would be an economic tragedy,” Wadhwa wrote in a mail to SAJA.

US Immigration Policy

More startling, his study found that even if the US decides to maintains its status quo on H1B visas very few foreign students would like to continue to stay in the United States permanently—only 6 percent of Indian, 10 percent of Chinese and 15 percent of Europeans, as per his survey.

This indicates that the despondency is high even in the immigrant population.

For the US economy this could be a harbinger to more bad news as immigrants had once founded 52% of Silicon Valley startups and 25% nationwide. These were all highly skilled immigrants, who had contributed to 25% of U.S. global patents.

Building on AnnaLee Saxenian’s report Silicon Valley’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Wadhwa’s team  estimated that in 2005, immigrant-founded tech companies generated $52 billion in revenue and employed 450,000 workers.

In some industries and regions, immigrants played a particularly critical role. In the semiconductor sector, immigrants founded 35% of startups. Interestingly, Indian immigrants founded 26% of these startups, more than the next four groups— Britain, China, Taiwan, and Japan.

Wadhwa’s team also discovered that in 2006, foreign nationals in the US were named as inventors or co-inventors in one quarter of WIPO patent applications filed from the United States, a stunning increase from the 7.6% of applications filed in 1998. “Clearly, immigrants are contributing significantly to U.S. intellectual property, a key ingredient for the country’s economic success.” Says the report.

Warning that the present controversy over the US’s immigration policy could be dangerous for the economy, Wadhwa has predicted a massive “reverse brain-drain” from the U.S. to India and China.


6 Responses to “Obama’s immigration policy may backfire”

  1. Stacey Derbinshire on March 23rd, 2009 6:54 am

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work :)

  2. Hot News » Duke University on March 23rd, 2009 8:37 am

    […] at Duke University, 1967…HELP!!!! Duke, Nottingham, or Aberdeen??? « Sub Specie Aeterni…Obama’s immigration policy may backfire | Outsource Portfolio… « Korea Vs Venezuela Nora Roberts Northern Lights » © 2009 […]

  3. Delegationnation on March 30th, 2009 3:44 pm

    Definitely, I think it is a excellent article, immigrants are and will be always an important topic of discussion.

  4. Radhika on April 1st, 2009 1:53 am

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