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Technology, Immigration, & Jobs

September 26, 2011

This morning President Obama held an electronic Town Hall at the LinkedIn headquarters in Silicon Valley. The topic was “Putting America Back to Work” and focused mainly on jobs and the President’s American Jobs Act.

During a previous electronic Town Hall held at the Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley in April, immigration emerged as an important topic for workers in the technology industry. As TechCrunch reported, the President’s remarked:

We’ve got ambitious people from all around the world, that come here because they have a new idea … If we’ve got smart people who want to come here and start businesses, who’ve got PhDs in math and science and computer science. Why wouldn’t we want them to stay? … These are job generators.

In 2010, a Tuck School of Business professor (at Dartmouth), Dr. Govindarajan wrote in a post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network:

Resentment toward immigrants has been growing in recent years, doubtless exacerbated by the economic crisis and rising unemployment in the U.S. The shortsighted reasoning behind that resentment is that foreigners will take jobs that could go to Americans. But we are forgetting two things. First, an immigrant may have skills and capabilities that are unique and not otherwise available in the U.S. More important, this is not a zero-sum game. A talented immigrant creates innovation that builds new industries and thereby creates more jobs. Just look at Silicon Valley.

. . . Consider that the co-founder of Google is Sergey Brin, a Russian. The co-founder of Sun Microsystems is Vinod Khosla, an Indian. eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar, who is French. The co-founder of Juniper Networks is an Indian, Pradeep Sindhu. YouTube was co-founded by Steve Chen, who is Chinese. Yahoo! was co-founded by Jerry Yang, a Chinese immigrant. Andy Grove, a Hungarian, co-founded Intel. The companies these highly skilled immigrants co-founded account for many, many  jobs.


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