Competitive Liberalization of People Movement

Microsoft Wants No Limit On Hiring Foreigners,” Associated Press, 27 April 2005, http://www.thekcrachannel.com/technology/4423402/detail.html (from Democratic Underground).

Canada is wooing Mexican immigrants,” by Chris Hawley, Arizona Republic, 3 May 2005, http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/0503canada03.html.

While Microsoft founder Bill Gates is asking for more open immigration rules in the United States

Bill Gates is urging an end to federal limits on foreign engineers who can be hired by U.S. companies.

In some rare personal lobbying of the Bush administration and Congress, the Microsoft mogul said it doesn’t make sense to put limits on the number of “smart people” who can come into the country.

Currently, no more than 65,000 overseas engineers, scientists, architects and doctors are allowed to take such jobs in the U.S.

U.S. labor groups and out-of-work computer engineers argue otherwise, but Gates and other technology executives say they need a larger labor pool.

It’s a sensitive issue with Americans watching jobs moving overseas.

Canada is already doing just that

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Canada’s Immigration Policies Hasten the Harmonizatoin of North America

As the United States fortifies its border with Mexico, Canadian companies are reaching out to immigrants who are frustrated by U.S. restrictions and tempted by dreams of a better life in Canada.

The Canadian government has been relaxing its immigration rules in an effort to attract students and skilled workers from all over the world. That, and the push by companies promising jobs and visas, is attracting Mexican professionals turned off by the Minuteman Project, new border walls, tougher U.S. entry requirements and laws like Proposition 200 in Arizona.

“Live in Canada!” says a Mexico City newspaper ad placed by a Canadian labor recruiter, as a photo of the Toronto skyline beckons. “Voted the No. 1 country in the world for living four years in a row,” an immigration counseling company boasts on its Web site.
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Canada has its arms open to immigrants, and the United States has its arms closed. It’s as simple as that,” accountant Marcos Ramírez Posadas said as he stood in line with other visa applicants outside the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.

I like competitive liberalization. While Canada’s unilateral policies often cause trouble, I hope the US and Canada compete to attract foreign workers. Gates’ words are signs that similar openness may soon be coming to the United States.

My only criticism of these immigration plans such as H1-B is that they rarely provide a pathway to citizenship. My friends at USD’s CompSci program have a lot of hassles to go through because of American immigration rules, and they are not guaranteed citizenship at the end of their work. This is wrong. My friends Ilknur, Preaad, Tenuun, Ramana, Shujin, Xingming, &c work hard in America. My friends should be able to become Americans.

Post Script: A DU poster notes the “coincidence” of Gates’ personal lobbying and this. Hmmm…

6 thoughts on “Competitive Liberalization of People Movement”

  1. Mixed feelings on this subject. On the one hand, I’ve got friends of my own I’d like to see get their citizenship. On the other, I’d also like to see more Americans get hired by these companies.

    Not protectionism, more like getting Microsoft, et al, to come clean about why they aren’t hiring these people so the rest of us can figure out what needs to be done to fix the situation. Probably a very painful debate, but one that needs to happen.

  2. Mike,

    Wow! Congrats for finding this post from May 2005 in November 2006! 🙂 That’s some nice time-tunneling! 🙂

    I think a lot of our problems comes from the strange syndacalism of American liberalism. If we believe that health care is a national priority, which we see to, then support it from general revenue and not by using the tax code to do so through big companies. The same holds true on the lower income end as well: if we believe a minimum income is necessary for dignity or health, then provide that from general revenue and not by making small companies provide it.

  3. Dumb luck, I was looking through your categories and found it.

    Actually, I wasn’t thinking so much about where it comes from that what “it” is. The excuse that used to be handed out is that the American workers weren’t educated in the right things; has anybody been able to change that? If not, why not? Your observations about the health-care system are another aspect. And is it possible that maybe the low-level Science, Technology and Engineering workers (myself included:P) are- on average- too well paid to compete with people in India, health care or no?

  4. Michael,

    If you compare American and Asian students in America, you will discover that Indians are better at mathematics, engineer, and related fields. This is because India and China are very effective at providing a straightforward engineering education. This will serve those countries well in the years ahead.

    But, if you compare American and Asian students in America, you will discover that Indians and Chinese are terrible at inductive thinking, terrible at communication, and terrible at group projects. This is because America is very effective at providing a collaborative, linguistic education. This will serve us well in the years ahead.

    So I think the curtain is drawing for low-level engineers with only engineering skills. But American engineers still have many advantages because of other skills. So I wouldn’t count them out yet.

  5. Trick is translating that advantage into jobs, either by getting the American companies to try different work models, finding the appropriate education upgrades for the American engineers, or both.

    Not counting anybody out, just worrying about my own prospects.

  6. Michael,

    I agree with your worries. I’m sort of a programmer-in-exile myself.

    Long-term the generator of jobs is the market. Short and medium term life demands a lot of resiliency. I support national health care for just that reason.

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