IMMIGRATION DEBATE RAGING IN HIGH TECH LABS

October 31, 2007

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A couple of recent stories this week highlight how the immigration debate has given rise to both “reactionary” and pro-immigrant positions within the very immigrant-heavy high tech industry. This story titled “State of the Engineer: Immigration–The reactionary side of engineering” from the EE Times, a major electronics industry publication, makes clear that the country’s labs are hardly hermetically-sealed off from the greater ills of the larger society. A survey conducted by EE Times found that,

“On immigration, only 21.2 percent of respondents agreed with the idea of allowing an unlimited number of foreign engineers and technical professionals to work in America, and to work here without being asked to leave after a prescribed period of time (see chart below).

The remainder expressed the belief that either the number of foreign engineers should be restricted, or their time in America be restricted or both.”

But like the larger society, the countries labs are also home to many immigrants, an incresing number of whom find themselves having to raise their voices and placards in defense of their very existence. In another article published in today’s AP, I found this quote by a migrant tech worker particularly revealing of the future,

“I’ve never held a banner before, but I don’t know what else to do,” said Gopal Chauhan, a high-tech employee who has been waiting seven years for a green card. “We usually have better things to do, like invent the next iPod.”

And, in another quote illustrating how the Republican and, increasingly, Democrat short-term strategy of bashing migrants will result in economic blowback in the long-term, the the article states,

“The Indian and Chinese economies are being fed right now with people who get tired of waiting and go home,” Bhatia said.

The technological, scientific and immigration chickens are already coming home to roost.

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