Tech Sector Offers GOP Political Cover for Immigration Reform

Tech Sector Offers GOP Political Cover for Immigration ReformJim Gilchrist, MMP Exclusive – One of the most insidious aspects of current immigration reform efforts is how easily our politicians have succumbed to the idea that our Nation will lose its competitive edge unless foreign students can stay here after graduation to start companies and invent things that will create jobs for the rest of us.

They are told by Bill Gates, Chamber of Commerce, and Silicon Valley that foreigners with advanced degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) should be issued work permits with their diplomas. After all, they say, America is just shooting itself in the foot by insisting that the best and brightest go back home after graduation where they will eventually best us on the global playing field.

Republicans are eager to accept these unsupported claims because they see an opportunity.

Instead of risking the wrath of their voter base by supporting comprehensive immigration reform — which will certainly include a path to citizenship for those here illegally — they think they will have the political cover to go along with Democrat proposed reforms simply by recasting the immigration issue in terms of business and economic reform.

In this way, the GOP thinks it can quell growing opposition among the party’s conservative base, and still increase the party’s appeal to middle-class Latinos who could be persuaded that they stand to benefit most from any economic revival brought about by comprehensive immigration reform.

The trouble with this strategy is that it is premised on the bogus claim of the tech industry that there is a labor shortage in the STEM fields. In fact, no study other than those sponsored by the tech industry has ever confirmed such a shortage!

On the other hand, a growing number of studies refute the claim of labor shortages in STEM fields and contest the notion that U.S. citizens are less talented than their foreign counterparts.

Other data shows that salaries in STEM fields have been flat since 2000, and that U.S. students are moving out of these fields after graduation into areas that offer higher salaries and less competition for jobs. Americans are being driven out of STEM fields to the point that only a third of those with STEM degrees are working in their field of study.

The goal of tech sector immigration reformers is simply to have available an inexhaustible supply of cheaper labor to draw upon at will. Foreign labor is best for this purpose because these employees are less inclined to quit, complain and demand more, and can be counted on to work long hours.

Many Republicans probably understand all this and have factored it into their decision for supporting immigration reform. What they hope is that the rest of us are too clueless to figure it out and respond in any meaningful way. This may prove to be a big miscalculation on their part.

Squeezed by an unforgiving base as well as suspicious Latinos, Republicans could be in for lean times long into the future if they continue to pursue such a cynical strategy — one that threatens to harm American workers and discourage American students beyond hope of recovery.