Need to Know, May 11, 2012: Legal immigration, entrepreneurship

This week's host Maria Hinojosa

In this edition of Need to Know, the program explores the debate about legal immigration.

First: should the government make it easier for foreign-born, hi-tech workers to stay in the United States, as companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft argue? Or are these workers already undercutting the job market for Americans? Need to Know’s Rick Karr travels to Silicon Valley and to New York City to investigate.

Also, Need to Know’s Mona Iskander goes to Atlanta for a look at foreign-born entrepreneurs. The U.S. Small Business Administration says people who immigrate to the United States are 30 percent more likely to start a business than American-born citizens.

And a Jon Meacham essay about how the federal legislation passed in 1965 under President Johnson fueled immigration.

What’s on this week:

Reverse brain drain

Should the government make it easier for foreign-born, hi-tech workers to stay in the United States, as companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft argue?

Foreign-born entrepreneurs

Need to Know goes to Atlanta for a look at foreign-born entrepreneurs.

American Voices

A Jon Meacham essay about how the federal legislation passed in 1965 under President Johnson fueled immigration.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

 

Comments

  • Anonymous

    They need to stay in their own countries so they canx fix the places they live,

  • Anonymous

    US/EU work visa and outsourced IT & BPO projects must be pegged to Human rights/Caste system in CHINDIA.
    Otherwise your middle class will be destroyed.
    http://www.rediff.com/business/slide-show/slide-show-1-tech-apple-workers-forced-to-sign-no-suicide-pledge/20110504.htm
    http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/sep/29/un-says-indias-caste-system-a-human-rights-abuse.htm
     

  • Jk2000

    Thats because those people who immigrate to the United States get more support and federal funds to start those jobs.  It’s more likely Ameican citizens don’t get those perks to start a business.  If the American government was more supportive and assisted more Americans to start business they would create more jobs. But it doesn’t, I started a home base busines 23 years ago and got no government support or grants, or low interest loans. But I see illegals come here and get low interest loans to start similar business and then they violate the EDD laws and discriminate and only hire other illegals for their help.  An the government does nothing about that, but if I hired them they would fine me and shut me down.  Who’s government is it any more, NOT AMERICANS.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/2LHVESIHGEJGYGCK3CRMLGU5HY Marta

    I was with Providence Health and Services and my manager was an Indian.  I was hired by another manager higher than her because she kept hiring Indians.  She made my life miserable, overrated work of Indians and undermined ours.  She was verbally abusing me, I went to HR, the HR manager is Indian.   Bottom Line, they would do everything to replace you with an Indian.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/2LHVESIHGEJGYGCK3CRMLGU5HY Marta

    I was with Providence Health and Services and my manager was an Indian.  I was hired by another manager higher than her because she kept hiring Indians.  She made my life miserable, overrated work of Indians and undermined ours.  She was verbally abusing me, I went to HR, the HR manager is Indian.   Bottom Line, they would do everything to replace you with an Indian.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/2LHVESIHGEJGYGCK3CRMLGU5HY Marta

    I was with Providence Health and Services and my manager was an Indian.  I was hired by another manager higher than her because she kept hiring Indians.  She made my life miserable, overrated work of Indians and undermined ours.  She was verbally abusing me, I went to HR, the HR manager is Indian.   Bottom Line, they would do everything to replace you with an Indian.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/2LHVESIHGEJGYGCK3CRMLGU5HY Marta

    I was with Providence Health and Services and my manager was an Indian.  I was hired by another manager higher than her because she kept hiring Indians.  She made my life miserable, overrated work of Indians and undermined ours.  She was verbally abusing me, I went to HR, the HR manager is Indian.   Bottom Line, they would do everything to replace you with an Indian.

  • Mark

    The vast majority of these visas are used by off shoring outsourcing companies. This is a fact this corporate shill propaganda video does not tell you. Over 3 million jobs have been destroyed by outsourcing visas!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_S46EMQQTGNONOQ5COVHGQ5AWIQ john

    Yes we should allow high tech immigrats to stay in America,and we should train our children in higher tech.The factories that we had 20 years agono longer excist and are gone forever.We need to train young people and others to work in tomarrows factories.Finally America was built by immigrats from the Mayflower to today. 

  • Rjbaillie

    Throughout this entire program, two issues were conflated: (a) entrepreneurs who are not US citizens, and (b) the issuance of H-1B visas so foreign programmers can come here and take jobs that would otherwise go to Americans.

    OF COURSE Bill Gates and other elites who run large corporations want lots of H-1B visas!  As businesspeople, they want to hire the people they need for the lowest possible wages.

    But, taking into account the needs of American workers, is this a good policy for America?  As an American programmer, I say it is not.

  • http://twitter.com/yukaichou Yu-kai Chou

    Hello JK,

    I am the Yu-kai Chou in that video. I’m sorry you had a difficult experience in your hard-created startup. I know how hard it is. But I want to say that foreign entrepreneurs who are educated and creating jobs in the US don’t really get any support for the government. Investors feel like you will be kicked out soon. The government does not allow us to get a paycheck (even though we write paychecks to other employees). If you want to create a company in the US, the only option for a “foreigner” to legitimately start a business that is “accepted” by the government, is to bring $1M into the economy and hire US citizens. They get no benefits.

    True, there are government programs that assist minority CITIZENS (as they are discriminated in many other areas too), but when we look at the foreign students who have the next big idea and capabilities, they are pathetically forced to go home…and create thousands of jobs overseas instead.

    I’m sorry you’ve had a bad experience with this, but we really genuinely just want to create value, jobs, and change the world in a positive way in the place that calls itself the land of opportunities.

  • Warren

    There needs to be a major overhaul of the corrupt H-1b and L1 outsourcing visas before we even start to talk about more of these visas.  Just my opinion. 

  • http://twitter.com/yukaichou Yu-kai Chou

    Hello Mark,

    I’m the Yu-kai Chou in the video. I know you probably dislike my existence, and I sincerely apologize for that, but I think there may be some misconception on this point you are making.

    With the global economy, these people who are overseas are being hired no matter what (this would be much harder to prevent). However, from my understand (welcome to be proven wrong), having these same workers work in the US is better off for all the citizens in the US too. Let me explain I really believe that:

    1. When these people are being employed by US companies in lets say Indian or China, they take money AWAY from the US, and spend it in their local economies – local markets, real-estate, professional services etc. This helps create jobs there in China or India – on the US company’s dime! Now the US company forces them to go to the States with an H1-B Visa, and the same salary gets them to pay US grocery stores, professional services etc. Now the US company is spending money that circulates back into the economy and ultimately help local businesses generate more revenue and create more jobs to handle extra consumption (yes, from the immigrants).

    2. When these people are in Indian and China, their living costs are so low that they can easily undercut your salary by 80% and still be making enough money to feed their families. However, when they are on their H1-Bs in the US, not only does the government enforce a competitive salary, but their living costs are a lot higher. They can no longer undercut your salary by 80% because they can no longer survive themselves, let alone feed their families here. So basically, the same programmer is A LOT more lethal to your job when s/he is in China/India than in the US. They don’t even have to be better than you at what you do. They are the default choice because they only cost 20% of what you cost. In the US, they at least have to prove that they are better to get a job (or else they get kicked out of the country…) For jobs that can be done remotely (like programming), it is actually better for the US if EVERYONE is living in a place with much higher living expenses so they can’t go low on salary. And what better place for higher living costs than the US?

    The reason why many people are out of jobs is not because of foreign immigrants. Many people have jobs in the first place because of foreign immigrants. The reason why many people are out of jobs is because some number of BANKERS, who are likely NOT foreigners, made decisions based on greed and put the entire economy into bad shape. We entrepreneurs are trying to save that! 

  • http://twitter.com/yukaichou Yu-kai Chou

    Hahaha, yes. I think they’re starting to learn that now too! :)

  • Warren

    Good sir, no one is against you, but they are against the corrupt outsourcing visa scheme. Big difference.

    I am very familiar with the outsourcing industry, so I will tell you how these visas work.

    1) Jobs that can go overseas do.  It is cheaper than a guest worker or US workers. 

    2) Guest workers are often the vessel to move the jobs overseas.

    3) For the jobs that remain, they are here for a reason; they pretty much need to be.  There is too much business interaction and such to ship it overseas.  This is where the outsourcing visas come in to play.  They flood the labor market to lower wages, displace US workers with lower paid guest workers, and create a disposable workforce that is at the mercy of corporations.

    4) The outsourcing visas are all about greed.  The make the rich super duper rich, and destroy jobs for the US middle class.  There are currently over 1 million guest workers in the US on some type of outsourcing visa.  FYI, bankers are big time users of outsourcing visas.

    5) The vast majority of these visas are used by off-shoring outsourcing companies.  They are not creating jobs and discriminate against local workers.

    I hope you find these comments useful.

  • Guest

    The video, demanding more outsourcing visas, is brought you by Goldman Sachs… PBS you have lost it.  

  • Adoptsalot

    It was a disappointingly one sided attempt to convince Americans that we need more immigrants, legal or not, in order to prosper.
    With MILLIONS of citizens out of work, this propaganda just doesn’t fly. 

  • mc

    This was the replyfrom Warren Yesterday 09:50 PM in reply to Yu-kai Chou  I am very familiar with the outsourcing industry, so I will tell you how these visas work.1) Jobs that can go overseas do.  It is cheaper than a guest worker or US workers.  2) Guest workers are often the vessel to move the jobs overseas.3) For the jobs that remain, they are here for a reason; they pretty much need to be.  There is too much business interaction and such to ship it overseas.  This is where the outsourcing visas. I don’t think the problem is entirely due to outsourcing alone. We have to blame the American Financial Institutions and phone companies also for this Outsourcing Call Center business.American Entrepreneurs want to make more money  and earn higher profits. The only way they could do is to outsource their call center business to other countries. That is what all the American banks such as Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo do. Even the CPAs here charge enormous amount of money to prepare Tax Returns. It is done by outsourcing companies for a fraction of cost.Similarly, there is a place called El Paso in Texas. This information appeared on CBS 60 minutes,Many American Doctors are not willing to work in El Paso. As a result, only doctors from Foreign countries come to El Paso , Texas and take the training after passing USMLE. vWhere is the problem` Many American Doctors are not

  • http://jskdn.myopenid.com/ jskdn

     It may not fly but it is certainly persistent and pervasive.

  • Anonymous

    If you follow the money, there is no shortage of engineers in the USA.  Engineering salaries have stayed virtually flat vs. inflation for decades (check the IEEE Salary Survey).  The Law of Supply & Demand says that it means the supply exactly equals the demand.  We know what happens when someone sneezes at an oil refinery — the perceived “shortage” instantly drives up the price of gas.  If there was truly a shortage of engineers, the salaries would increase over time and they haven’t.  The GSA has documented that H1-B visas are being used by companies to hold down engineering salaries.  This is hardly the environment that anyone who can actually “do the math” is going to spend 4-5 years in college for — salaries held flat by companies with the government’s backing.  These same groups wonder why we are getting fewer people going into engineering; they have only their self-serving, short-sighted policies to blame.  H1-B visas are the path to the destruction of USA engineering and eventual near total reliance on foreign engineers.  If we really want the immigrants here, then they should be given PERMANENT visas instead of the temporary H1-B’s.  Of course, that means they could move on to another company that would pay them what they are really worth or leave an abusive workplace without fear of retribution.  But what company would sign up for that?  Treating all of your workers well enough for them to want to stay?  Think of all the money that would take away from those multi-billion dollar quarterly profits!  It’s far cheaper to keep greasing the DC palms to keep the status quo than to do what’s right for the country as well as American and immigrant engineers.  Our tech future is being sold out for a few extra campaign dollars, spent on politicians who will be retired before the damage is obvious to all (much like the pension issues of today being caused by the politicians of the past).

  • mc

    This was the replyfrom Warren Yesterday 09:50 PM in reply to Yu-kai Chou  I am very familiar with the outsourcing industry, so I will tell you how these visas work.1) Jobs that can go overseas do.  It is cheaper than a guest worker or US workers.  2) Guest workers are often the vessel to move the jobs overseas.3) For the jobs that remain, they are here for a reason; they pretty much need to be.  There is too much business interaction and such to ship it overseas.  This is where the outsourcing visas. I don’t think the problem is entirely due to outsourcing alone. We have to blame the American Financial Institutions and phone companies also for this Outsourcing Call Center business.American Entrepreneurs want to make more money  and earn higher profits. The only way they could do is to outsource their call center business to other countries. That is what all the American banks such as Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo do. Even CPAs charge enormous amount of money to prepare Tax Returns. It is done by outsourcing companies for a fraction of cost.Similarly, there is a place called El Paso in Texas. This information appeared on CBS 60 minutes,Not a single American Doctor is willing to work in El Paso. Why? Nobody knows. So the hospitals look for doctors from Foreign Countries. As a result, the Foreign Doctors work in these areas where the American Doctors are not or will not be willing to work.Another major problem in this country is the high school Mathematics level. Most American students are still weak in Mathematics. Without Mathematics, no one can get into Technical Fields such as Computers or Engineering. Naturally, Asians top the list and Indians, in particular, are extremely good in Mathematics and English. That is one of the main reasons why Bill Gates opened Microsoft Office in India. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/J3I7JK34BL337QUQ3JPXVME4C4 Archie

    For the record, H-1bs are not “highly specialized”.  They are usually just normal office tech workers.  This story is very misleading.  The government rubber stamps H-1bs, they do not check for “special” skills.  

  • lgfromillinois

    I appreciated the look at IT immigrants in America.  Until retirement I was with a tech company that brought in IT people from Latin America (where the US company had extensive operations) and hired Pakistani born IT.  People from LA were to train in latest tech and return to native country for rmployment.  The Pakistani born were cheaper alternatives, but also more available for the work to do (programming).  Many of these came through agencies.  I don’t know if American born people were considered.  My sense is that the H-1B immigrant issue is not all either bad or good thing.  The report was balanced.  I hope you will revisit issue.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L4SMMUQGSOH7WYZJ6WLU3V5NJA Wolfgang

    Brain drain?  Absolutely, but the brains are Americans who don’t even get the “time of day” from tech firms because the resume queues have hundreds of resumes in them because of the glut of H-1B and other guest workers.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L4SMMUQGSOH7WYZJ6WLU3V5NJA Wolfgang

    Facebook, Google, HP, and Microsoft receive 1000+ resumes for each position they actually hire.  They have zero need for H-1B visas.  They don’t even try to hire domestic.  Bill Gates is lying about the Canadian engineer because Canadians can work in the USA without a H-1B visa (they use the TN-1 visa, which doesn’t even require employment sponsorship!).

  • Deadassassin2012

     pbs is spinning….in 4 minutes “need to know” is on, and Maria Hinijosa explores the debate about legal immigration. WHAT? there is no debate there, it is allowed, and we all support it. The debate is about ILLEGAL immigration….hence the supreme court case against AZ, 1070 and other similar laws……..Ive not once seen anyone from the right (blogs, news or other) comment negatively about legal immigration

  • Chibon25

    One thing that was overlooked by President Johnson and  ignored by Mr. Meacham’s comment, was that one line in Johnson’s immigration speech- this was NOT an empty land for any and all to do with as they wished! This land was already home to a large number of people who were and are still vanquished, punished and killed by all the immigrants from overseas, i.e., those who came in ships to rape, pillage and plunder this land. No, I do not speak of pirates of lore.
    The only native people are lost in the antiquity of North America. Please get the pluralism out of your broadcasts and become free again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roy-Lawson/670514336 Roy Lawson

    The debate has been dumbed down to the point where people are either “pro-immigration” or “anti-immigration” and there isn’t room for a nuanced position.

    The truth is that some visa programs aren’t designed to foster immigration or entrepreneurship.  Their purpose is to create a supply of labor that gives employers control of workers – requiring a corporate sponsor (middle-man).  Visas that do this are H-1b, L-1, and B-1.  

    Vivek Wadhwa – the man interviewed on this program – pushes hard for these corporate visas.  He understands the harm they cause to both potential immigrants and American workers – but he doesn’t care.  His goal is to enable their exploitation.  Don’t be fooled by this man.  His goal is to expand programs that create a form of indentured servitude and restrict the rights of workers.

    The way out of this crises is simple.  Take out the corporate middle-man.  Their goals aren’t about expanding immigration.  Their goal is clearly their own profit.  Top sponsors are offshore outsourcing firms.  They are not only not creating jobs, they are used to assist in the exportation of jobs.

    As a “liberal Democrat” that supports immigration, I can sleep well at night opposing the H-1b and L-1 visa programs.  Any program that restricts the rights of workers and gives their employers the right to even have them deported is fundamentally unfair.  We are a free nation, so any program that restricts freedom is anti-American.  

    The only difference between Vivek Wadhwa and the mamma-san at your local “massage parlor” is that eventually the mamma-san let’s her exploited sex workers go.  Vivek Wadhwa wants to exploit people in perpetuity.  They may not get sexually abused, but don’t kid yourself: they are abused.  Wadhwa is an enabler of these abusers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roy-Lawson/670514336 Roy Lawson

    There is still plenty to debate about our legal immigration programs.  I support legal immigration, but the current programs are all about indentured servitude.  Corporate sponsorship of workers has corrupted legal immigration in America.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Roy-Lawson/670514336 Roy Lawson

    Yu-kai Chou – your response to a valid complaint (offshoring companies the top sponsors) was a personal attack.  

    Corporate sponsorship of a worker amounts to corporate control of their liberty.  Their ability to negotiate for better pay, working conditions, or another job are restricted because the direct or implied threat of dropping sponsorship.

    If I am only thinking about the bottom line and profits, and a worker we sponsor comes to me asking for a raise, I could very easily remind them about our sponsorship and how their choices are to work for what they are offered, or to take the next flight home.  That goes on day in and day out.  You – an immigrant of all people – should be speaking out against that practice.

    Sadly the worst exploiters of immigrants tend to be immigrants themselves.  Stop enabling these exploiters Yu-kai Chou!  America may be a land of economic opportunity, but it is a nation first and American tradition is to value liberty and freedom above all else.  Let’s not lose sight of that.

    You clearly understand the nature of the H-1b visa and corporate sponsorship so I find it troubling that you offer your unequivocal support of what appears to be all visa programs even though not all visa programs are created equally.

    Immigrants everywhere need to speak out against corporate sponsorship.  It is the root cause of many of our immigration problems.

  • native minority

    You’re mistaken.  I live in Silicon Valley and US born people are being pushed out by waves of immigrants brought in to drive down wages via oversupply.  It’s as simple as that.  US born people are a small minority in most high tech firms.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RJMI36I67E4MD5HAA7ANZDLKGQ Hunter

    Did you here the first part of Johnson’s speech about immigration?  I paraphrase ” People from different places coming to a empty land’ This has never been a empty land, when people came here  from Spain, France and England there were millions of people here with thousands of different of cultures. This country was built on war and taking lands from the indigenous people. We are constantly trying to bring extra people to share a limited amount of resources. Immigration is only a problem because it stagnates wages for the majority of workers(unskilled and skilled). There may be  foreign entrepreneurs, but for every one entrepreneur there are a thousand unskilled laborers.

  • http://twitter.com/yukaichou Yu-kai Chou

    Roy Lawson:

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t seem to get why my discussion on the issue is a personal attack (not even sure on who), but I get where you are coming from. I am not pushing for all kinds of visas, but for better visas that are more appropriate for what a nation needs to be innovative and stay competitive. I know full-well that many foreigners are being exploited with the H1-B system (actually, they CAN switch jobs…its just very stressful to find another sponsor), and it saddens me when I see a person who could be top/respected in his own country lose 6 years of his life being exploited with “lower pay” and working extra hours.

    All I’m doing is talking about my own personal experiences, the difficulties I’ve had to go through in order to innovate and create value/jobs in this country. I stubbornly stay here because I was here since middle school (I’m 26 now), but I know dozens of peers who tried for a few years but got pushed out and started creating companies in their own companies. If I personally know dozens of these people, I’m confident there are thousands of them, which could equate to hundreds of thousands of jobs. 

    I’m not a fan of the current Visa processes, and all I’m saying is that the Status Quo is not working.

  • anonimoose

    good points on both sides of the issue.  I welcome foreign born entrepreneurs, however rank and file developers are a different issue.  The “special skill” many H1b possess is a willingness to work for lower wages. Some ideas to think about:

    - Duck Soup hit on a key point.  If Bill Gates, etc. claim that there is a shortage of workers, why aren’t wages going up?  How can there be a shortage with flat wages?

    - IT/Programming/Software Engineering produce an intangible product.  It’s not like a car, or even sales that can easily measured in $.  The savings in wages are clear, but the cost of lower quality code is not.

    - My kids see the layoffs/shrinking paychecks I’ve gotten, and want no part of it.  My son got 800 in his math SAT, and has zero interest in software.  The shortage in native IT workers is becoming a self-fulfilling prophasy.

  • Cjcharger45

    Maybe if we spend more money on educating our youth they would be smart enough to get these jobs my seven yr old is being taught by one teacher for 30 students have you ever seen 30 7 years together?

  • Lance

    A great new book that explains these cultural differences – “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understanding crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” A whole chapter on starting a business in the U.S.