Democrats' new immigration restrictions

Topics: Labor
09 Mar 2009

From: Ervan Darnell

Under a recently passed amendment to the federal stimulus bill, companies [...]—will face more restrictions in hiring H-1B visa holders, foreigners with at least a bachelor’s degree and “highly specialized knowledge” in a particular field. [1]

B of A, in particular, has withdrawn job offers because of this[2].

This is a lose-lose deal. We are pushing the most talented people away from the U.S. We're sabotaging our own educational institutions by making them less competitive. We're making the U.S. look even less tolerant. We're sabotaging the very companies we trying to help with the TARP (by not letting them hire the most cost effective employees). Nor does this even save "American" jobs. Usually when people stay in the U.S. on an H1-B, they *are* Americans. And Democrats accuse Republicans of being racist? How are they any better?

It's worse than that, even if immigrants aren't Americans, this is just the anti-trade fallacy in a different guise, where the foreign trade is simply closer to our shores, and more efficiently placed. (Incidentally, I often hear people discount economics because economists disagree, this is in many ways a sampling artifact of the news only reporting controversy; economics does reach real conclusions and real consensus, free [international] trade is something where economists do agree [3], and the Democrats are wrong).

An immediate connection to TARP is that TARP attempts to regulate CEO salaries. This is a bad idea on its own merits, a petty act of class warfare disconnected from economic reality, but it is even worse in that it sets the precedent that Congress can decide who should get a job where and for what salary. This will lead to political payoffs trumping economic too many times. The current example is a case by subsidizing some voters a lot at the greater cost to the country as a whole (beneath the average voter's rational ignorance threshold), and of course the new Americans-to-be don't get a vote.