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May 24, 2013

Could More Skilled Immigrants Help the U.S. Tech Industry?

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The Senate will debate a comprehensive immigration proposal next month, but House Republicans said that instead of voting on the Senate’s bill, they will pull together their own legislation instead.

While most public debate has focused on undocumented immigrants and a path to citizenship, the new legislation will also affect skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs looking to work in the U.S.

Vivek Wadhwa of Stanford Law School, who wrote a book on the subject, says that immigrants skilled in technological fields face unnecessary barriers to entering the U.S.

“They’re trying to make America a better place,” he said. “They’re trying to make — create more jobs for Americans. And we’re holding them back because of our flawed immigration policies.”

However, not all are convinced. Ron Hira of the Rochester Institute of Technology thinks that hiring foreign workers hurts talented Americans.

“I think the facts are pretty clear that, in fact, American — these companies don’t have to look for Americans workers first… they’re actually displacing American workers in many cases,” he said.


“Right now, technology is driving our economy. We’re solving major problems using technology. We’re advancing U.S. competitiveness using technology. The technology industry needs all the bright people it can get that can help it build these new technologies and improve our economy,” Vivek Wadhwa, Stanford University Law School.

“The way it’s written right now, [companies] would have to collect resumes, but they don’t actually have to hire Americans, and they could displace Americans. So they can clearly bypass American workers. And there’s an incentive for them to do so,” – Ron Hira, Rochester Institute of Technology.

Warm up questions

1. How does an immigrant become a U.S. citizen?

2. What is an undocumented immigrant?

3. What are some benefits of being a U.S. citizen?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think that the U.S. should make it harder or easier for skilled foreigners to immigrate to the U.S.?

2. What requirements should there be for people who want to come work in the U.S.?

3. Why are politicians tackling immigration reform now?

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