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Dear Editor:
Mr. LaTour has apparently had his head buried in the sand, to be able to miss what's happening in today's economy. Native-born and recently naturalized workers in information technology are being laid off while the industry continues to cry "shortage" of such workers and to proclaim the need for even more H1-Bs. Even recent computer science grads, formerly the "cheap" labor replacing older workers, are facing the roughest job market in 30 years. When graduating engineers at Virginia Tech, and computer science grads at top schools such as Berkeley can't find jobs in large numbers as is now happening, well, what's wrong isn't about US students not wanting to go into certain fields. As for healthcare, I remember the industry consolidations of the early 1990s, where mergers threw experienced nurses out of work and out of the profession. My niece, who's graduating from high school this year, has been accepted to a good nursing school, and will be graduating in 3 years. She's heard there is a shortage of nurses, and thinks it's a good career choice. If has been recent practice, and we rely on importing healthcare workers, will she be able to find a job? Or will she become another American who's told to train for a career we sorely need, only to find that what's really needed are workers who will work cheaply and not rock the status quo, i.e. foreign imports? The New York Times this past year noted that nursing salaries remained stagnant during the 1990s, hardly what one would see if there were really shortages (remember, we also imported nurses during this period under the H program). But then, salaries are perhaps far secondary to working conditions in attracting and keeping nurses, and the healthcare industry has no incentive to improve those if it can "steal" nurses from developing countries, where salary and working conditions make those in the US look like Nirvana.

Ali Alexander



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