Tag Archives: immigration

Why Not Grant Visas To Promote Startups in the US?

Vivek Wadhwa’s column on the Washington Post site is titled America’s Irrational Immigration Fear. He goes into the background about visas for entrepreneurs and technology innovators, and some of the problems involved. It’s good background information, based on a July 18 report from the Brookings Institution. Here’s a summary of the findings:

Report authors, Neil Ruiz, Jill Wilson, and Shyamali Choudhury, concluded that the government could be stifling innovation by limiting H-1B visas and not taking into account local demand for highly-skilled workers. Demand for these visas has far exceeded supply nearly every year for the last decade. Additionally, the government has been indirectly taxing U.S. R&D and innovation by imposing hefty visa fees, which range from $1,575 to $4,325 depending on employer size — plus $1,225 for expedited (read: timely) processing, according to the report.

The short video here (Vivek in the middle) talks specifically about the H1-B visa, but the high point is Vivek suggesting we should have a “startup visa” that allows entrepreneurs to come into the country. I second that motion. 

(In case you don’t see the video, click here for the source)

Rejecting Rationalizations for Racism

I rarely post about politics or current affairs on this blog but today I can’t resist. Yesterday I read a column in the Wall Street Journal highlighting how a group of religious fanatics, all ethnically Arabs, threatens our country. And last month Arizona enacted a law that openly discriminates against Hispanics. Rationalizations run rampant. It seems like we’re prepared to stomp on minorities, Constitutional or not, equal protection or not, as long as we can rationalize. Pakistanis might be terrorists. Mexicans might be illegal immigrants.

Excuse me, but what are we protecting here? Is it a set of ideals? A way of life? Maybe a Constitution, and a Bill of Rights? So is it okay, as long as we have a rationalization, to squash whole ethnic groups in this country? Citizens or not?

I hate the new Arizona law. It has police and other public officials checking citizenship papers during routine interactions, like traffic stops. So I go to Arizona and I’m fine, because I’m an old white guy; but my Mexican friend, just as American as I am, has to carry extra documentation. All the Hispanic-looking Americans living in Arizona have to carry extra documentation around, just in case.

Isn’t this a lot like what Nazi Germany did to Jews in the early 1930s, first requiring them to carry extra papers around, then later the yellow stars, and, sadly, the horrors that followed. Whatever the problems this Arizona law supposedly solves, it’s just plain unacceptable.

I relate the Arizona law to the terrorism problems because of the way rationalizations for racism grow. And how easy is it to crack down on ethnically Arab people now that we have the problem of religious fanatics who tend to be Arab? It’s already happening. Ask your Arab friends how they feel when they go to the airport. Is it racist? No, they say, it’s just logistics, law of averages, and all. But we didn’t crack down on rednecks when Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City. And we’re not cracking down on illegal immigrants who don’t look Hispanic.

Sure there are rationalizations. There are always rationalizations. Terrorism, illegal immigration, those are real problems. But however serious those problems are, this country doesn’t solve them by ranking and categorizing and downgrading some of its citizens. That’s not what we’re about. Do the ends justify the means?

There are always rationalizations for racism. They don’t make it okay.

Immigrants, Job Creation, Good and Bad Politics

It’s about time. In the midst of cloudy partisan politics and shouting on both sides, with small business often in the middle like the foil for the arguments, here’s a federal government move that makes sense. TechCrunch has a good summary, called The Startup Visa: Create Jobs, Get A Green Card. As we used to say in the 60s, “right on!” Here’s a quick summary:

The Startup Visa Act of 2010 would create a two year visa for immigrant entrepreneurs who are able to raise a minimum of $250,000, with $100,000 coming from a qualified U.S. angel or venture investor. After two years, if the immigrant entrepreneur is able to create five or more jobs (not including their children or spouse), attract an additional $1 million in investment, or produce $1 million in revenues, he or she will become a legal resident.

Immigrants are by definition people who move themselves from where they were to where we are to improve their lives. I’m very glad to welcome them into our society and our economy with open arms. And entrepreneurs in the mix are good for all of us. More competition, sure, but bring it on. New customs, new languages, more mix, that’s great too. We all win. Variety is the spice of life, and xenophobia is pretty much a euphemism for some ugly bigotry.

If the merits of this idea aren’t completely obvious to you, I suggest you search Google for “immigrants create jobs” and read the first four or five hits that come up, as shown in my illustration here.

For the record, I don’t like writing about government small business policies in this blog. Almost all of it is just partisan politics, divided in the ugly and thoughtless way so much of our discourse is in this country. First you take sides, then you think. Put forth talking points instead of discussion. If I say something good about the current SBA it’s because I’m pro-Obama. If I criticize it’s because I’m against Obama. And so forth.

But this one seems so obviously good for all that I can’t resist posting about it. I hope they don’t screw it up with the politics around it.