Tech Firms Put Off by Immigration Fairness

Sunday, May 20, 2007

For years, the technology sector has demanded that immigration policy enhance economic competitiveness by favoring highly skilled, highly educated workers for permanent residency.

But last week we discovered that high-tech businesses don't really care about getting the best workers for the economy as a whole. What they actually prefer is the right to choose the specific workers they want, for the precise jobs they identify, at the lowest wages they can get away with.

We know this because the high-tech community has come out against the delicately balanced compromise on immigration reform announced last week by the White House and a bipartisan group of senators. A central feature of the legislation is a "merit-based" point system for choosing who will receive green cards based largely on education, skills and family connections.

But while this sort of system has worked well in Canada and Australia, it is apparently not good enough for American high-tech firms, which complain that it would "take key personnel decision-making out of the hands of U.S. employers" and replace it with -- egad! -- a "bureaucratic solution."

Imagine that -- an immigration policy driven by the desires and ambitions of immigrants themselves, based on principles of fairness and objective criteria, and shaped not by the free market to serve private interests but by a democratic government to serve the public interest!

We wouldn't want that now, would we?


© 2007 The Washington Post Company