May 2, 2005
Written by C.N.
CNN.com and others report that Microsoft Chairman and richest man in the world Bill Gates made a rare trip to the nation’s capital to lobby legislators to end current restrictions on H1-B visas that are given to temporary foreign skilled workers. In this case, Gates wants to expand his ability to hire more foreign computer programmers and engineers from countries such as India, China, Taiwan, and Korea. As the article explains,
Gates and other leading technology executives have pressed Congress aggressively to let them hire more foreign employees by raising visa limits, but Gates hasn’t previously campaigned to abolish the immigration law entirely. Technology executives have argued they are unable to find qualified American workers, a contention disputed by U.S. labor groups and unemployed computer engineers. . .
The Commerce Department undersecretary for technology, Phil Bond, cautioned Gates during his talk that unemployment among U.S. computer engineers regularly exceeds unemployment in other industries. “The politics of that are real,” Bond said. Government figures showed 5.7 percent of information technology employees were out of work last year versus 5.5 percent of all workers.
I am personally torn about this particular issue. On the one hand, I support Gate’s proposal to raise the number of skilled Asian workers who are allowed to work in the U.S. They should be given the opportunity to utilize their skills to the fullest extent possible and to contribute to America’s economic and multicultural strength.
On the other hand, I remain a strong union supporter and part of that stance involves making sure that American workers are given fair opportunities to compete for jobs, rather than automatically giving jobs to workers who are willing to work for lower wages. I also think that the U.S. should not become overly dependent on foreign labor, especially when there seems to be plenty of American high-tech workers who are unemployed.
I don’t know what the best solution is, but I hope that there is some middle ground where both categories of workers are able to part of what they want, so that they all contribute to the same goal — keeping the U.S. economy and culture strong and vibrant.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Bill Gates Wants More Asian Engineers" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/05/bill-gates-wants-more-asian-engineers/> ().
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