Professor Norman Matloff often speaks of the “internal brain drain” that occurs when the importation of foreign tech workers drives “able Americans out of scientific and technical fields.” A new study by economists at Notre Dame and Fairfield Universities (Connecticut) has indeed found that the presence of highly-skilled foreign workers affects highly-skilled natives in a way that is “consistent with displacement.”
The decline in high skilled native populations is driven by high skilled immigrant inflows, and high skilled outflows increase from affected [areas].
Simply put, skilled foreign workers displace skilled native workers. This occurs because, contrary to industry claims, there is no shortage of available American workers to fill jobs in the tech sector. Foreign workers are brought in to drive down wages and conditions to the benefit of tech employers, and native workers are forced to seek work elsewhere.
So why are politicians pushing legislation like the Startup Act 2.0, which, if passed, would immediately add tens of thousands of foreign workers in tech fields? The argument behind the bill is that the best way to improve the U.S. economy is to bring in foreign workers to fill the “great demand” from tech employers (notwithstanding the existing oversupply of native workers) for skilled workers. This will “create jobs in America” and everyone will be happy – or at last the campaign coffers of the bill’s sponsors will be filled by grateful corporate contributors.
This bill has attracted support from members of both parties. Sadly, in Washington, D.C., bi-partisanship means politicians joining together to celebrate a bill that will put more Americans out of work.