Category Archives: Immigration

More Military Positions Open to Visa-Holders

Good news from the Pentagon that raises the predictable howls of protest from Democratic Underground: the U.S. military is opening some positions to non-immigrant visa holders, such as highly skilled workers already in the U.S., those on student visas, and so on.

The Associated Press: AP Exclusive: Pentagon to recruit aliens on visas
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has authorized the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to recruit certain legal residents whose critical medical and language skills are “vital to the national interest,” officials said, using for the first time a law passed three years ago.

Though the military previously has taken recruits with green cards seeking permanent residency, Gates’ action allows the services to start a one-year pilot program to find up to 1,000 foreigners who have lived in the states legally for at least two years on certain types of temporary visas.

The new recruits into the armed forces would get accelerated treatment in the process toward becoming U.S. citizens in return for serving in the wartime military in the United States or abroad.

“The services are doing a tremendous job of recruiting quality personnel to meet our various missions,” sometimes with bonus pay and tuition for medical school, said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense for military personnel policy. There are currently about 24,000 doctors, dentists and nurses in the Defense Department.

The article goes on to emphasize the new reach of the program: while there is a long history of foreigners serving in the American military (all the way back to the Revolutionary War), this is the first time in modern times that non-green-card holders are being recruited.

The U.S. military is not a protectionist jobs program: it is an organization designed to provide peace and security both to us and to others in the world. It is a force for good: a force for trade, connectivity, and most importantly the Constitution.

Employers such as Microsoft, General Electric, and IBM have long recognized that the best talent may not hold a U.S. passport, or even a U.S. greencard. I am glad that Secretary of Defense Gates (who has the confidence of both President Bush and President-Elect Obama) knows this too.

Chinese Visas (The Other Kind)

Previously I discussed the difficulties I encountered on my way to obtaining my third Chinese tourist visa. My problems were nothing compared to Chinese who wanted American tourist visas: Until very recently, there weren’t any available. Fortunately, as part of the ongoing institutional talks supported by the Bush and Hu administrations, this is changing:

US Opens to Chinese Tourists, but Limitations Still Exist
Although the US is expected to welcome the first Chinese visitors issued tourist visas before the forth China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) next month, problems still remain, as it is not easy for Chinese citizens to get access to these visas. Presently, only residents of some of the richer areas can obtain these visas, and those issued the visas will have to travel with tour groups.

Shao Qiwei, Chairman of the Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA), and the visiting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez announced in Beijing on May 15th that starting on June 17th Chinese tourists would be able to travel to the U.S in group tours.

The first tourist visas from China to the United States are restricted. Essentially, Chinese needs to prove that they have no desire or need to move to the United States, and so need to show proof of employment, a title to a home, money in a bank account, and so on.

Hopefully the comprehensive immigration reform long championed by George Bush and John McCain (and tepidly endorsed by Barack Obama) will be passed in the next Congress, shrinking the grey market of unskilled immigrant labor and allowing more tourists from oversees to visit our country.

Bush Right, Democrats Wrong, on Immigration and Free Trade

Homeland Security (which is under President Bush’s control) extends the work permit of foreigners who graduate from American universities with Master or Doctoral degrees from 12 to 19 months.

Congress has not acted to increase the H1-B limit, meaning perhaps 100,000 high-skilled workers will be turned away, leading to a large loss of human capital and moving high-skill industries away from the United States. In spite of this, Bush’s USCIS will accept as many applicants as possible — even perhaps exceeding the Congressional cap.

And meanwhile Bush pushes for a free-trade agreement for Columbia, which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unfavorable compares to ‘a foreign-aid package’!

As the Asia Times writes:

In any case, the AFL/CIO and its cheerleaders among the Democrats in Congress appear to have found a way to kill even bilateral trade agreements, by demanding US levels of union protections, benefits and environmental restrictions in the relatively poor countries with which they are generally negotiated. A world full of bilateral trade agreements is not flat but mildly bumpy; a world in which even these have become impossible requires serious landscaping.

The issues are too important to trust the Democrats with the Presidency.

Vote John McCain.

Bill Gates Right on Immigration

Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates combines mastery of details and persuasive logic to argue in favor of increased skilled immigration to the United States.  Pay attention to the bit about the current calendar for transitioning from a student (F-1 OPT) to a skilled work (H-1B) visa:

Gates to Congress: Microsoft needs more H-1B visas
Disputing claims that skilled immigrants would cost American jobs, Gates argued that Microsoft hires four Americans for supporting roles for every high-skilled H-1B visa holder it hires. He also cited a study by a Virginia-based group that found a similar pattern held in other American high-tech companies.

Gates singled out the timing of the H-1B process for particular criticism. Visas for the coming year become available each April, and immigrants are permitted to begin work in October. Because a college degree is required before a worker can apply for an H-1B visa, foreign students who graduate from an American university in May are forced to wait until October of the following year to begin work at an American company. Not surprisingly, many highly skilled workers choose to take jobs outside of the US rather than wait for 18 months for the opportunity to take a job in the US.

Finally, Gates urged changes that would dramatically increase the number of skilled workers who could achieve permanent residency status in the US. In addition to the H-1B visa increase, he advocated an easier process for highly skilled immigrant workers to become permanent residents, and the elimination of country-based quotas for the issuance of green cards.

Let’s hope Congress listens to Bill Gates, and a pro-immigration candidate is elected this November.

No Wonder Obama Has Problems With The Latino Vote

Earlier I wondered if it was his presumptive support for race-based affirmative action.   I had forgotten Obama’s flip-flop embrace of the know-nothing wing of the Democratic Party:

Obama in Senate: Star Power, Minor Role – New York Times
To others, though, the mismatch between Mr. Obama’s outside profile and his inside accomplishments wore thin. While some senators spent hours in closed-door meetings over immigration reform in early 2007, he dropped in only occasionally, prompting complaints that he was something of a dilettante.

He joined a bipartisan group, which included Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, and Mr. Kennedy, that agreed to stick to a final compromise bill even though it was sure to face challenges from interest groups on both sides. Yet when the measure reached the floor, Mr. Obama distanced himself from the compromise, advocating changes sought by labor groups. The bill collapsed.

To some in the bipartisan coalition, Mr. Obama’s move showed an unwillingness to take a tough stand.

“He folded like a cheap suit,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, a close ally of Mr. McCain. “What it showed me is you are not an agent of change. Because to really change things in this place you have to get beat up now and then.”

Obama’s wrong on free trade, health care, Iraq, and immigration.

And I had hoped that immigration was one of the few areas where Obama is at least no-worse than Clinton.

Too bad.

High Quality Peers in Higher Education

Trouble ahead for American colleges:

Math Suggests College Frenzy Will Soon Ease – New York Times
High school seniors nationwide are anxiously awaiting the verdicts from the colleges of their choice later this month. But though it may not be of much solace to them, in just a few years the admissions frenzy is likely to ease. It’s simply a matter of demographics.
Skip to next paragraph

Projections show that by next year or the year after, the annual number of high school graduates in the United States will peak at about 2.9 million after a 15-year climb. The number is then expected to decline until about 2015. Most universities expect this to translate into fewer applications and less selectivity, with most students probably finding it easier to get into college.

America’s University system is the envy of the world. Our competitive, free-market, and subsidized tertiary education institutions are better than anywhere else in the world. Students in India, China, Iran, and other countries dream of going to America to study — the universities of other English-speaking countries (Australia, Britain, Canada) are safeties, and those of Europe and Japan are barely considered.

America should use this chance to increase the quality of American colleges by welcoming more international students.  Providing a green card to every PhD graduate, with certain qualifications,  would be a great way to do that.

Legalize Dope, Annex Mexico

An excellent article by George Friedman

This leaves the option of treating the issue as a military rather than police action. That would mean attacking the cartels as if they were a military force rather than a criminal group. It would mean that procedural rules would not be in place, and that the cartels would be treated as an enemy army. Leaving aside the complexities of U.S.-Mexican relations, cartels flourish by being hard to distinguish from the general population. This strategy not only would turn the cartels into a guerrilla force, it would treat northern Mexico as hostile occupied territory. Don’t even think of that possibility, absent a draft under which college-age Americans from upper-middle-class families would be sent to patrol Mexico — and be killed and wounded. The United States does not need a Gaza Strip on its southern border, so this won’t happen.

The likely course is a multigenerational pattern of instability along the border. More important, there will be a substantial transfer of wealth from the United States to Mexico in return for an intrinsically low-cost consumable product — drugs. This will be one of the sources of capital that will build the Mexican economy, which today is 14th largest in the world. The accumulation of drug money is and will continue finding its way into the Mexican economy, creating a pool of investment capital. The children and grandchildren of the Zetas will be running banks, running for president, building art museums and telling amusing anecdotes about how grandpa made his money running blow into Nuevo Laredo.

It will also destabilize the U.S. Southwest while grandpa makes his pile. As is frequently the case, it is a problem for which there are no good solutions, or for which the solution is one without real support.

.. confirms what I said before.

Selling Permanent Residency

Harriman, P. (2008). “Investors trade millions for visas: Little-known program encourages foreign investment in S. Dakota dairy expansion,” Argus Leader, 13 January 2008. Available online: http://argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080113/NEWS/801130309.

This is a very good idea, and solves two of the major problems associated with immigration in the current debate: that immigration increases crime and that immigration depresses low-skill wages. I did not know this existed, but it’s easy to see how this is good for America and society. A news article about the “EB-5 ‘cash-for-green-cards’ Visa:

When Rodney Elliott and his 20 employees milk the 1,700 cows at Drumgoon Dairy near Lake Norden, they complete a unique international financial hookup.

It worked like this: Four South Korean investors each put up $500,000 for the right to gain permanent residency in the United States for themselves and their families. That investment helped finance the Drumgoon Dairy and gave Elliott of Northern Ireland the chance to milk cows in South Dakota.

Elliott and his Korean partners were linked under a federal program designed to encourage investments in rural areas and other regions with high unemployment.

South Dakota was one of the first states to take advantage of the revised U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services EB-5 program that provides 10,000 visas annually for foreign investors.

Half are reserved for those who put at least $500,000 into rural areas such as South Dakota to create at least five jobs. Since 2005, the EB-5 investment/visa program has directly contributed $30 million that leveraged a $90 million expansion of the South Dakota dairy industry, according to Joop Bollen, head of the South Dakota International Business Institute that oversees the state’s effort to recruit foreign investment.

This is good, both nationally and socially. Nationally, linking permanent residency to proof of prior success has a similar effect to linking college application to the ACT or SAT. Further, my increasing the supply of high-income/high-wealth workers, it depresses wages at the upper end (all other things being equal) or leads to further economic growth (with a greater supply of high-income/high-wealth laborers).

Interestingly, the EB-5 program was created under Bush 41, lapsed under Clinton and was resumed under Bush 43:

EB-5 was established by Congress in the early 1990s largely as a way to counter efforts by Canada in the 1980s to attract foreign investors, especially from Hong Kong where as much as $1 trillion left the country after Britain returned it to China, according to U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Cal.

The program was suspended in the late 1990s. Congress retooled it to clarify investment goals and to ensure investors followed through on investment commitments and job creation. It was resumed in 2003.

More information on “EB-5: Immigration through Investment” is available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Our goal, of course, is to be #1, over all factors, of course

The factors of production:

In economics, factors of production are resources used in the production of goods and services…

* Land or natural resource – naturally-occurring goods such as soil and minerals that are used in the creation of products. The land or resource need not be on Earth (nor any other planet) as in the future land will include moons (beginning with mining Helium-3 from Luna, for example) and asteroids, and other obtainment of materials in space. The payment for the use of land owned by another is Economic rent.
* Labour – human effort used in production which also includes technical and marketing expertise. The payment for labour (workforce) is a wage or a salary. Wage can be either in nominal value or in real value. Usually the salary or wage are marked as “w”.
* Capital – either the prior-produced production goods (business capital, or real capital) that are physically used by businesses to produce other goods, or the funding (financial capital) that is provided by investors to businesses so as to pay the previous producers for those production goods. The return on business capital is profits, part of which may be retained and the rest paid in dividends. The return to financial capital depends on the legal and economic form it takes, where the return on equity capital is the dividends received and the return on debt capital is interest. Capital gains upon investments in equity (from stock value increases) or debt (from bond value increases) are not factor incomes as they are not payments for any additional provision of capital but come from a change in others’ opinions about the value of the existing capital and its arrangement.

List of countries by total area

  1. Russia 17,000,000 square kilometers
  2. Canada 10,000,000 square kilometers
  3. People’s Republic of China 9,600,000 square kilometers
  4. United States of America 9,600,000 square kilometers
  5. Brazil 8,500,000 square kilometers

List of countries by population

  1. People’s Republic of China: 1,300,000,000 people
  2. India 1,200,000,000 people
  3. European Union 490,000,000 people
  4. United States of America 300,000,000 people
  5. Indonesia: 230,000,000 people

List of countries by GDP (nominal)

  1. European Union 15,000,000 million dollars
  2. United States of America 13,000,000 million dollars
  3. Japan 4,400,000 million dollars
  4. Germany 2,900,000 million dollars
  5. People’s Republic of China 2,600,000

When different policies are proposed, one question that should be asked is “Does this help shrink the gap?” Another is, “Does this help America’s power?”

Bare Knuckled Economics

Hard not be be impressed with Alan Greenspan’s thinking:

Education reform will take years, and we need to address increasing income inequality now. Increasing taxes on the rich, a seemingly simple remedy, is likely to prove counterproductive to economic growth. But by opening our borders to large numbers of highly skilled immigrant workers, we would both enhance the skill level of the overall workforce and provide a new source of competition for higher-earning employees, thus driving down their wages. The popular acceptance of capitalist practice in the United States will likely rest on these seemingly quite doable reforms.

Of course, brain draining other countries by importing the best workers probably will increase income inequality in the long term, all other things being equal, because a country with a higher average general intelligence grows faster and, thus, creates inequality faster. Still, when a country is rich it can afford luxuries such as public goods, universal health care, etc.