Transcript: Q&A with Rep. Erik Paulsen on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy – Joint Economic Committee hearing on May 7, 2013

Partial transcript of Q&A with Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy. The Joint Economic Committee hearing was held on May 7, 2013:

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.):
…I remember in Minnesota a couple of years ago, I spoke to an individual who’s involved in a software start-up company and he was seeking new software engineers that he needed to be successful and grow the operation and he ran an ad with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and came back with two qualified applicants. He runs the same ad in the Dehli newspaper in India and comes back with 800 qualified applicants. And clearly there was a disconnect there in terms of having the ability to fill the work was needed to grow and prosper. He was able to work something out eventually where he did operations not only overseas but also grew his operations in the United States, in Minnesota.

And I hear other stories from similar employers that go through those exact same situations. They have a tough time filling open spots in terms of STEM, et cetera.

I’ve introduced legislation in the House side – it’s not the comprehensive one – but it is one of the steps of the STAPLE Act that would exempt foreign-born individuals who’ve earned a Ph.D. in STEM from the limits on the number of employment-based green cards and H-1B visas annually. And I know Sen. Klobuchar’s moved forward with similar initiatives as well and I think it’s great because I think if we can get immigration reform right, we can actually help our economy and close the growth gap, which I know has been a focus of a lot of our hearings in the JEC as well.

…It’s pretty clear that we’re saying if you get educated here, foreign-born folks are educated here, we’re sending them back home. They’re going back home and they’re being our competitors, they’re competing against us. In your viewpoint, is there a tipping point? I mean, is there a critical mass where other countries at some point generate either local education systems or entrepreneurial sort of development where there’s critical mass, where we will no longer be the destination, where we do have a tipping point in critical masses overseas if we don’t act soon?

Grover Norquist, President Americans for Tax Reform:
Well, you’d certainly see it in certain industries – banking and others. I mean, there are a whole bunch of cities where somebody could cheerfully go to and be almost like living in the United States but without really cool cable. So I think yeah it’s a danger. And I think that we’re better off making available, if they want to come and be Americans, that opportunity. I was unaware of the legislation that say if you got your STEM Ph.D. somewhere else, come on in. I think that’s a great idea. Certainly ups the numbers of folks that could come in – not just the ones who were able to get into schools in the states. I think that’s an extremely good idea.

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.):
Dr. Kugler, maybe you can expand as well. Going forward does the lack of STEM workers – what does it mean for future innovation for the economy in general?…But what happens if we don’t move forward?

Dr. Adriana D. Kugler, Professor at Georgetown University and Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Labor in 2011 and 2012:
So we know from data just from last month that about 17% of employers are unable to fill their vacancies. 36% are unable to find enough qualified applicants. And there are substantial skill gaps in high-tech manufacturing, information and the health sectors. These are highly innovative sectors, which if they don’t have the qualified labor would not be able to continue growing. Many of these people work in R&D and innovative activities, and this would drag back productivities for the economy.

It’s very important that in the proposal they have included these exemptions to the H-1B visas from the caps for in particular doctorates in the STEM, for physicians, for those managerial occupations. And it’s very important because the 65,000 cap is being reached continuously every year. It’s being talked about in the proposal to increase them to 110,000. But this exemption from this cap is very key because it allows people to come in no matter what and not have to rely on whether they will make it into that cap that year or not.

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One Comment on “Transcript: Q&A with Rep. Erik Paulsen on the impacts of immigration on the U.S. economy – Joint Economic Committee hearing on May 7, 2013

  1. Pingback: ANALYSIS: Grover Norquist debunks Heritage Foundation's claims that immigration reform will add $6.3 trillion to the deficit | What The Folly?!

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