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Bloggings: July 12, 2007

by Greg Siskind

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Greg Siskind's blog.

LA TIMES: MICROSOFT'S CANADA GAMBLE SHOULD SEND MESSAGE TO CONGRESS

The LA Times becomes the first major publication to discuss the Microsoft move north to Canada for its new research center on its editorial page. The Times puts the blame squarely on our Congress for this and has sympathy for why Microsoft made the decision:

Consider it just the latest in a series of monuments to the United States' botched immigration policy, as well as a reminder of the Senate's recent failure to pass a comprehensive fix despite bipartisan support. High-tech companies are so frustrated by the limits on visas for skilled labor that they're not just opening offices in India and China to recruit local talent. They're also putting facilities in places like Vancouver for prized recruits from around the world — many of them trained at U.S. universities — who cannot work here.

The demand for H-1B visas for high-skilled immigrants has become so much greater than the supply that almost twice as many applications arrived in a single day as there were slots available for the year — 65,000, plus 20,000 for those with advanced degrees from U.S. schools. Other countries, by contrast, are starting to make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate. That's because they're focusing on the benefits those employees can bring to their economies, not the competition they present to native labor.

Many of these immigrants become the innovators and entrepreneurs who create companies, employ more people and create wealth. Just look at the U.S. experience — about 25% of all venture-capital-backed start-ups here were launched or co-founded by foreign nationals, including Yahoo, Google and EBay. The same benefits come from talented U.S. workers too, but not enough of them are pursuing science, math and engineering careers to fill the voracious demand at Microsoft and other high-tech powerhouses. A comprehensive fix to U.S. immigration policy is overdue, but failing that, Congress should at least adopt a more sensible approach to H-1B visas.