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An H-1B cap hike would mean a grim future for workers

Patrick Thibodeau | May 20, 2014
If Congress approves comprehensive immigration reform, it will likely more than double the cap on H-1B visas. What happens then sounds dystopian for workers.

"This apparently broad consensus prevails notwithstanding almost universal inability by objective labor market analysts to find any convincing empirical evidence to confirm the existence of such generalized shortages," wrote Tietelbaum.

Matloff said the real problem with H-1Bs is their use to hire young workers over older IT employees, which he calculates as anyone over 35.

While most of the focus of this forum was on the H-1B visa, plans that would give fast-track green cards to advanced degree STEM grads were also seen as problematic. Matloff said it would exacerbate the age discrimination issue.

Matloff said H-1B workers don't represent the best and brightest, and evidence is in the number of patents issued per capita. "In fact, it's the opposite: on average, they are slightly below the quality of Americans," said Matloff.

When patents are measured at a per capita rate of patent production, the immigrant engineers are shown to produce fewer patents than the Americans, said Matloff.

There is a lower patenting rate by the foreign engineers than by Americans, and if you combine that with the displacement of American workers, "that means we have a net loss of innovation ability," said Matloff.


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