The high-priced corporate lobbyists walking Capitol Hill corridors have a new mantra: innovation. They demand that Congress bring in more guest workers, especially from Asia, in order to maintain American innovation supremacy.
The lobbyists' backup buzzword is "the best and the brightest." They argue that U.S. workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are in short supply and we must now import foreign engineers and scientists, i.e., allow the multinationals to bring in an increased or even unlimited number of H-1B visas.
Their argument lacks evidence: Economics 101 teaches that shortages in labor or goods produce higher wages or higher prices. In fact, we have no shortage of engineers or computer techies, so their wages are stagnant and are certainly not going up. In 2005, we graduated 271,000 students with bachelor's or master's degrees in science and engineering who were citizens or legal residents. The dean of Duke University Engineering School says that 40 percent of his graduates do not get engineering jobs. Bill Gates and other multinationals simply prefer to hire Asians, particularly from India, who work for low wages and can be trained on the job.
Professor Norman Matloff examined the H-1B record and discovered that H-1B visa recipients are mostly employees of ordinary talent doing ordinary work. Most of them work at levels I and II, described by the Department of Labor in terms akin to apprenticeship, while very few H-1B workers are at level IV, the level of expertise whose description is associated with innovation. "Aliens of extraordinary ability" and outstanding professors and researchers can come into our country in another category, EB-1, and we welcome them. Another argument used by the lobbyists is that international comparisons of math and science K-12 test scores show that Americans are weak. That cannot be used as evidence because India and China refuse to participate in those tests. Professor Matloff dispels the myth that our tech industry owes its success to math geniuses coming from Asia. The evidence does not support this "Asian mystique."
The Department of Homeland Security is doing its part to help the multinationals hire foreign graduates of U.S. universities instead of Americans by increasing the time foreign students can join the U.S. labor pool without an H-1B visa from 12 months to 29 months.
On a Friday afternoon, DHS quietly announced a new regulation that figuratively staples an H-1B visa to the diploma of all foreign graduates in science, technology, engineering or math. This bureaucratic edict really increases the H-1B cap by 23,000, which is the number of foreign students getting degrees in science, math and engineering this year.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Phyllis Schlafly‘s column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.