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Obama opposes House passage of H.R. 6429 (cnet.com)
99 points by prostoalex 1640 days ago | hide | past | web | 109 comments | favorite

From the administration's response:

"As a part of immigration reform, the Administration strongly supports legislation to attract and retain foreign students who graduate with advanced STEM degrees, to establish a start-up visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs to start businesses and create jobs, and to reform the employment-based immigration system to better meet the needs of the U.S. economy. However, the Administration does not support narrowly tailored proposals that do not meet the President's long-term objectives with respect to comprehensive immigration reform."

Essentially this bill "converts" the 55,000 "diversity visas" currently available into "STEM visas."

It looks like this bill originated from the Republican party, so I'm wondering why they didn't just write a bill that allocated additional STEM visas without "cannibalizing" the diversity visas.

Because they want to force Democrats to be on record voting against letting entrepreneurs into the country. The potential for attack ads during the next election cycle matters more in Washington DC than actually getting things done.

A little OT : Here's a great example of a bill being written with explicit intent of making anyone who votes against it look like a terrible person:


Written by Lamar Smith, Mr. Privacy Invader himself -- make sure to read the Privacy issues section of the wiki page

Lamar Smith also authored the existing immigration law (IIRIRA) which is widely considered to be an abject failure. One provision had esteemed Judge Richard Posner exclaiming 'the law can't be that ridiculous!' before setting it aside in a recent case.

The law had a provision for granting advance parole to people whose immigration proceedings were incomplete so they could leave the country for things like weddings, funerals and so on and get back in to pick up where they left off. However, leaving the country also caused the immigration application to be considered abandoned, and the advance parole could be rejected. It even says on the advance parole application form that if granted, the parole may or may not be worth the paper it's written on - it depends on how the immigration officer at the port of entry is feeling on that particular day.

That should tell you all you need to know about Rep. Lamar Smith.

Good thing he's chairing the next House Science Committee.


Membership on House Science is unfortunately a signal of low status:


Did not realize that. How depressing :-(

I am not American, and I have no idea how American politics works... The bottom line to me is that despite (or because of) the things this chap is doing, he got reelected. Why are Americans voting for him?

People rarely vote for individuals. Instead they usually vote for parties.

This is certainly true in the UK. I suspect it's the case in the USA and most other democracies.

80% of individuals are re-elected in the house, in part because power structures reward seniority and create path-dependency, so the older your guy the he can "bring home the bacon" (aka, pork) to his constituents.

tldr, not true in the us. totally different system.

Rep. Smith is also responsible for the STEM bill in question here.


I've come to associate his name with being a bit of a red flag.


HN is mangling the hyperlink for some reason. Copy+pasting will get you to the bill.

I hire people who would be considered "STEM," but as mentioned below, this will drive down the wage my employees can get. I oppose this bill for other reasons too – but since my startup is too small, so I can't apply for H1B visa workers, I can't recruit outside the US anyway.

I care about my employees and at this stage I can afford to pay them above market rates. I don't have any trouble holding on to them, though occasionally life interferes – one employee moved for personal reasons.

These big companies that donated to the Obama campaign – "Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe" are called out in the article – if they are having trouble hiring highly educated employees while their profits are measured in billions, would they please consider offering a raise to their current employees?

I'd be surprised if they could demonstrate they raised their salary by 50% and were still unable to fill their open positions. Yes, I know that many companies consider salary one of their biggest cost centers, but I believe that misses the essential feature of hiring an employee: they become part of the company. Employees are compensated with cash; stockholders are compensated other ways. Especially in a large, profitable software company, it isn't _actually_ hard to pay your employees above average rates.

I don't see the point of these shenanigans. If they want to on TV and lie about their opponents, they can do that. Do they need the phony bill titles for plausibility? The voting public is nowhere near smart enough to soft through the distinctions.

They do it because it's effective.

Max Cleland lost his Senate race to Saxby Chambliss in 2002 partially on the back of attack ads that showed images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein while claiming Cleland didn't support President Bush's "vital security measures."

In reality, the votes in question involved things like Cleland voting against a Republican and for a Democratic version of a proposal, or larger bills that contained poison pills.

It was downright shameful -- and John McCain called it exactly that -- but it was effective.

Max Cleland is known to hate America. He was only willing to sacrifice three of his limbs in the service of the United States Army.

Saxby Chambliss, on the other hand, is a true patriot who proves this by yelling and screaming about it and never letting some pedantic BS about the "Constitution" obstruct his plans to remake America into his utopian vision as expressed by the movie "Idiocracy".

Except they can't force the (Senate) Democrats to vote on it because they can just not bring it up and it will die in January.

Also, while this is framed as an immigration bill, the Democrats won't take too much bad PR in important (Hispanic) immigrant communities because the vast majority of those aren't the tech job type.

Holding out for a comprehensive plan is probably a good move for Obama because he can include this as an incentive to vote for it. If they don't get some sort of comprehensive plan, it's still good because the Democrats could basically just introduce this without the zero-sum part and then the Republicans will be the ones against both skilled and unskilled immigrants.

This, exactly. If congressional republicans actually wanted the additional STEM visas, they could pass a clean bill doing only that and Obama would probably sign it, based on the statement above.

And if they vote for it, Democrats can be accused of being hypocritical when it comes to diversity. It's a no-lose situation for the GOP.

without "cannibalizing" the diversity visas.

Well, the diversity visas were the most brutal possible attack on sanity ever passed by a legislature. "Oh, you came from XYZ wretched backwater, here's your VISA...on the basis of your wretchedness." Sad, sad, sad, to live in such dismal times.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." - a certain statue's impossibly brutal attack on sanity

It is, of course, totally insane to let people voluntarily choose to work here and make voluntary economic transactions with other adults who voluntarily want to pay them money to provide goods and services for Americans to voluntarily purchase.

Well, yes, when you are making the decision based on someone being from a poor country. There are better measures on which visas could be distributed. I strongly support increasing the number of total visas, but that is separate.

> Well, yes, when you are making the decision based on someone being from a poor country.

But that's not the case.

> There are better measures on which visas could be distributed.

Better for who?

Isn't that a sensible humanitarian policy?

Actually a lot of poor countries don't qualify because there are already too many of their citizens living in the US, legally or illegally.

That's the "diversity" part, and the list includes many rich countries too.

Can't tell if serious? A datapoint: I moved to California, from France, on a diversity visa. I have randomly met 3 other french engineers who have done the same in my first couple months here.

In the worst case it's a tiny drop wrt. to general immigration, and I'm ready to bet it tends to in fact attract highly motivated people.

Are you calling most of Western Europe (including Germany, France, all the Scandinavian countries) "wretched backwaters"? What country DOESN'T count as a wretched backwater, aside from the U.S. of course?

If this is the case, the title of the article strikes me as poorly chosen.

The title of the article strikes me as one written by a Republican. This is a terrible bill, that's why it's not being signed.

Declan McCullough's reporting on legal issues frequently seems completely off base to me.

Yes. He also recently reported Patrick Leahy supporting a measure to liberalize law enforcement access to email without a warrant; Leahy supported a measure that was effectively the opposite, which is no surprise as Leahy is one of the most liberal members of the Senate, with a very strong ACLU scorecard.

But fact checking this stuff would cost CNet rageviews.



Given the number of articles that have been as poorly chosen it would not surprise me if this was the case.

As a recent immigrant myself -- I got my green card last week, after a 5-year application process, and I'm one of the lucky ones -- I'm a huge fan of immigration reform. However, this is not the bill to do it. The 55,000 diversity visas are an essential part of how immigration should work: there should be more of them, not less. While we need more STEM educated immigrants, it should not be at the expense of other visa types.

I'm unfamiliar with diversity visas- who are they for, and what "good" are they supposed to provide?

They are Visas available to anybody, for any reason, from any country. They are good because immigration is good.

But let me explain a bit further.

Most American visas are related to a specific job, or a family connection, or education. You can't just turn up and stay -- you have to have a reason, and a ton of documentation. But that's not how immigration has, historically, worked: the original American colonists and those that followed them through the 1700s and 1800s didn't arrive knowing where they'd live and what job they'd have. They arrived hoping to make a better life for their children, with no clear plan of how. That's what these visas are for.

The situation is complicated slightly further because these are restricted to low-immigration-rate countries. Basically, there are a billion Indians and more than a billion Chinese: even a very small percentage of them applying for a visa lottery would mean that 99% of visas went to people from those countries. Therefore, to get immigrants from a broader range of countries, visas for people from countries that send a lot of applications every year are handled separately, under their own quotas. The remaining countries are all lumped together and given a group quota: these are the "diversity" visas.

If you would like a more fundamental answer to why immigration is good, I'm happy to oblige, just ask :-)

Could you tell me why you claim immigration is fundamentally good? Interested in hearing more.

This isn't an argument for good or bad, but America was founded by immigrants and they've continued to arrive and build the country ever since 1776. If you think the American state is a good thing, it seems reasonable to favor immigration.

Personally, I believe that no human is fundamentally better than another and that we don't own the planet but merely inhabit it. This means I also believe we all deserve to be treated as equal citizens of a global nation. I realize that in practice you can't just dissolve all the borders at once, but nevertheless less restrictive border controls which includes things like increased immigration push things towards that ideal.

Fundamentally, immigration is a market response. Demand for labor inside of a country exceeds supply -- or, more accurately, the demand for labor in the receiving country exceeds the demand in the sending country.

This trade in labor is good for all the same reasons that any other trade is good: the commodity (labor) goes for the best price to the supplier to those who will most benefit from it, as indicated by their being willing to pay the most. Both parties benefit, it's a clear win-win, no problem. Right?

It gets a little more complicated in the case of immigration, for a bunch of reasons. Firstly: are the suppliers and sellers in this transaction nations, or individuals? You can look at it both ways:

If the parties in the trade are nations, then the benefit is rather lopsided to the receiving country: they get a new, productive worker, and any money they give that worker is mostly spent inside the receiving country, boosting that economy further. The sending country gets nothing -- even though it spent money educating that worker, providing them with healthcare, etc.. In practice, however, many immigrants send money back to family in their home country, a substantial flow of money known as remittances.

If the parties in the trade are individuals, the win-win nature is also obvious: the company gets a worker that they would otherwise have been unable to afford, the worker gets a better-paying job than they would have got in their home country.

But there's a third way of looking at it, and this is where things get tricky.

I could also have phrased the above as "for cheaper than a local worker". In practice, that's not usually how it works. Hiring an immigrant is generally more expensive and inconvenient than a native -- if a company could find a native worker to do the same work for the same price, they would rationally do so. However, the ability to hire immigrant workers at that price does prevent the company from raising the price it's willing to pay.

More simply: while the company wins, and the immigrant wins, a third party worker in the receiving country has, in one sense, lost: they could have got the job if they were willing to work for the same price as the immigrant, but not if they wanted more.

Immigration holds down labor prices, and this is where the trouble starts, because the connection between lower labor prices and greater prosperity for all is indirect and poorly understood.

When labor is cheaper, the goods those workers make can be sold for less (and, in a competitive market, will be). This means anybody buying those products is directly better off -- immigration has saved them money. They will then take that money and spend it on other things, and those sellers will spend it again on yet more things, until eventually somebody gets around to buying the goods being made by the third-party worker. He sells more of those goods, and so makes more money than before.

So any individual third-party worker is worse off because of immigration -- instead, everybody in the country shares a little bit of the benefit, and the total value created is greater than if the immigrant had never arrived, because there are two workers instead of one.

Resistance to immigration is, fundamentally, an acknowledgement of the selfish impulse to be personally better off, rather than making the whole nation richer. That makes it a big good economically, and a tough sell politically.

If immigrants benefit from social insurance, the whole equation falls apart. But you can't allow immigration and then refuse social services, so.....

Diversity Visas specifically check for that though - you must show you have enough funds to get there and support yourself.

Immigrants are in no way entitled to social services. If an immigrant on a work visa loses their job, they are required to leave the country within 10 days. However, immigrants on visas still pay full taxes. So actually, immigrants make social services cheaper to provide.

Any other general goods -- roads, fire services, etc. -- are paid for by taxes, and immigrants pay all the same taxes as citizens.

There are no immigrants on work visas. Illegal immigrants, by definition, don't have any visas and legal immigrants, the topic of the discussion, have an immigration visa which grants a lawful permanent resident status upon entering the country.

Diversity visa immigrants are definitely entitled to all the support and benefits. They are also not required to work to keep their status. I have not seen the DV statistics so I would be very happy if somebody corrected me here, but I imagine the unemployment among a bunch of random people who moved to a different country should be pretty high: it should be pretty hard to find a job in a different country without special skills. Often without even basic language skills.

> I imagine the unemployment among a bunch of random people who moved to a different country should be pretty high

They're not random people though. It's a selection of people who have the drive and willingness to uproot and move to another country. I'd expect unemployment to be lower.

Now if you were talking about refugees (an actual random sample of people who don't have a reason for moving), I'd agree.

Well, we can disagree with each other all we want. Without the actual statistics this means nothing. I could not find the statistics for the US, there is one for Canada though http://www.clbc.ca/files/reports/fitting_in/transition_penal... which seems to support my point of view. But as I said, I'd be happy if somebody corrected me with numbers.

The 55,000 STEM visas discussed in the original article are all work visas. They require a job offer and proof that no American is available to take the position.

You are right that the diversity visa holders are eligible for benefits. In practice, however, immigration doesn't happen if people can't find jobs. During the 2007-2009 period, all immigration, including illegal immigration, dropped to zero, and may even have gone into reverse:


The idea that people move to the united states in order to rely on the USA's incredibly shitty welfare system is just laughable.

Finally, this is 55,000 people a year. Do you think an increase in 0.01% of the US population is going to make any appreciable difference to any federal program's budget, even if all of them immediately applied for welfare? You could let in 10 times as many people and it would still be a rounding error.

No, the 55K visas moving from DV to EB are immigration visas. As for immigration dropping to zero in 2007-2009 you're wrong too, over 1 million legal immigrants in the year 2008 same as 2007 and 2009 http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2008/...

Immigration is the single biggest way to increase human welfare. Almost every immigrant into the US experiences a massive increase in quality of life, earnings, and other metrics of success. It's far more effective than charity or foreign aid, and far cheaper.

Prevents inbreeding of ideas. Some of those immigrants may be a heretic monkey. This passage from the anime "Irresponsible Captain Tylor" [1] explains it better.

"Do you know about monkey tribes? Monkey tribes are very organized, with a leader at the top. Now, once every few years without fail, a renegade monkey leaves his tribe and tries to join another one. The members of the new tribe greet the renegade monkey by beating it to a bloody pulp. And yet those renegade monkeys, those heretic monkeys if you will, are a providence from nature. Why? Because they keep the bloodlines from becoming too thick, from too much inbreeding within the tribe. So, you could say that those heretics are essential for survival. Heretics are essential for survival."

[1] http://greybeta.dreamwidth.org/179747.html

lottery system for immigration, focused heavily on bringing in immigrants from countries that have lower immigration rates to the US -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diversity_Immigrant_Visa

The White House response is worth a quick read (PDF --- http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislativ...).

I spent the majority of my undergrad studying immigration policy, and I can sympathize with the WH's point that chipping away at immigration reform will only complicate broader reforms that eventually need to happen. The bill as written sounds a little unfair as it removes thousands of diversity visas and allows the educated a quick jump to the front of the line.

I understand economically why this would be desirable, but it isn't true reform.


No, I'm saying the bill needs to be rewritten to not cannibalize the diversity visas.

We need both high skill and low skill labor in massive quantities; and as a country, we're dancing around a ridiculously broken immigration system.

The assumption that the DV lottery only brings in low skill labor is both insulting and wrong.

Your comment seems a little obtuse. My argument didn't make that assumption. A lottery is random; ideally providing a diverse selection of people across all skill, education and economic levels

Actually, the implicit assumption is that "only DV lottery brings in low skill labor", not that "DV lottery only brings in low skill labor".

On the other hand: does the glut of tech workers drive down wages? If you strictly look at it from a supply/demand angle, one could argue that if these companies wanted more techies, they could just pay more. Being able to increase supply at will (i.e. import techies) will naturally drive down prices (i.e. wages).

The same argument is made about illegal immigration: these immigrants fill low-end jobs that don't pay well; but their availability ensures that these jobs will never pay well.

Please don't get me wrong: I'm not opposed to immigration or this bill.I'm just asking about the impact; I'm not taking sides, so no flames please.

You raise an interesting concept, but as US-born software engineer, this is why I'm not too concerned:

- Unlike low-skill manufacturing jobs, most technology jobs are not commodity work. To put it another way: if the US gave out visas to 55,000 people who got an acting degree, I doubt Brad Pitt would have to take a paycut on his next movie.

- A lot of the companies sponsoring this bill are software companies, but STEM isn't just software engineering. The applicants here are in a wide variety of fields. How many of them will specifically get a computer science degree with the explicit goal of getting a job at Google? Some, sure, but not all 55,000. They'll go into other fields and other industries and I don't think the total volume of talent in each particular STEM industry will be enough to significantly impact wages.

- Whatever these people were going to do in the US in terms of entrepreneurship, if they can't get a visa they'll just go back to their home country and do it there. So it's just as possible they'd start their own companies and need to hire software engineers, which would actually have upward pressure on wages.

I can't imagine why US engineers would support a bill like this from a benefit analysis perspective. It should be obvious that if you add engineers, prices will go down. I can completely understand supporting it for moral reasons however.

1) It's not a whole lot different than H1-B and those haven't led to wage collapse.

2) Engineers who come into the US tend to start an insignificant number of new businesses, which, in turn, employ other engineers.

3) Countries that severely limit work visas have not turned into meccas of software development.

4) Companies will only increase pay up to a certain ceiling. At some point either the product economics don't make sense, or finding a dedicated development team in Romania/Poland/Ukraine is worth it even with communication overhead.

I like working with colleagues from other countries. (I'm also marrying one.) I'd rather the best of the world do their great work inside of the US rather than outside.

> It should be obvious that if you add engineers, prices will go down.

STEM is not a zero sum game. Adding personnel does not simply cut the pie into more pieces, it grows the pie. It's OK to get fewer dollars if those dollars can buy a self-driving car or a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

As a legal immigrant who has been in the country for 12 years and still waiting for a green card, I'm willing to accept that the administration will reject this bill if and only if it makes good on its promise for comprehensive reform. I also oppose the idea of cannibalizing the diversity visas - that seems to go against the spirit of the foundation of America's origins.

One reason it's controversial among Democrats is that the bill would eliminate the 55,000 diversity visas available to citizens of countries with low immigration rates to the United States.

-- Sticking point.

What is the argument for 55000 random visas at a time when the US economy is doing very poorly? Is this a game? US citizenship clearly has market value. Billions of dollars could be raised by turning these into entrepreneur visas or charging per visa (it's not like the US doesn't already do this, but the price is way too low).

If we're taxing current citizens, and we have 50% exit taxes, why not entry taxes? When demand exceeds supply increase the price.

Thanks for weighing in with your uninformed opinion on something while also invoking the age old "when the US economy is doing very poorly" straw man which has nothing to do with the DV lottery.

Those DV lottery winners pay US taxes while having no citizenship rights, so you have literally no idea what you're talking about.

I believe DV winners have citizenship rights after residing in the US for 5 years.

actually, after 5 years you can apply for citizenship

Visa != citizenship

And there are already plenty of routes for rich people to obtain visas, just by proving that they have a lot of money. These visas are for workers.

> Billions of dollars could be raised by turning these into entrepreneur visas or charging per visa (it's not like the US doesn't already do this, but the price is way too low)

Every year a number of EB-5 visas go unclaimed (which cost around $550K per family).

The US economy is doing poorly because of energy policy, not population size.

> Billions of dollars could be raised by turning these into entrepreneur visas or charging per visa ...

Billions of dollars would be like pissing on a supernova. Putting out the fiscal fire will take trillions of dollars in economic reform and growth, and immigrants have historically been a big part of American boom times.

Oh, I agree with you that billions are nothing relative to what this government is spending. Bernanke prints $85 billion every month. Even charging 1 million dollars for each of these 50000 visas would raise only $50 billion.

That said, the guys who could afford to pay that would better than these "lottery" admits. Young STEM grads would also be good. Canada and Singapore have far more rational immigration policies, where there is consideration given to whether a given immigrant will be a net tax-payer or tax-recipient; young STEM grads and entrepreneurs with money are favored categories -- and they do not give away coveted visas at random.

People act as if the US has infinite money to just give away, that we can be never-endingly generous with no consequences, that the quality of person we take in has no impact. Then they turn around and post on Hacker News about how you need to watch your burn rate and only hire the best for your startup.

I think the disagreement is on equating "giving away visas" with "giving away money".

I don't understand what's really wrong in diverting 55,000 visas from a random, unplanned allocation scheme (diversity) to a more metrics driven allocation scheme (education). How is this not 'true reform'?

Is there a reason that we need to reallocate current visas? Why not just create 55K new STEM visas?

The only requirement for a diversity visa is a high school equivalent. Considering how poor the job market is for HS only graduates, limiting visas to people with marketable skills makes a lot of sense.

Marketability should not be the only metric for valuing skills. How do you select the immigrant whose child will be the next Michael Phelps, or the next Einstein, or the next Pele?

*Pelé. "Pele" means skin ;)

You select marketable immigrants with the resources to invest in education and training, like the people you named's parents.

Pele grew up poor, Einstein's dad was a salesman, and Michael Phelps' parents are a retired cop and a principal, none of which would be eligible under the kinds of criteria being discussed here.

This way more less-educated people will have to stay in their home countries while an increased capacity for "advanced STEM degree" holders will both sap the intelligent workers from other countries and convert them into US taxpayers who are relatively captive as long as they want to stay in the US.

The diversity lottery is actually good immigration policy. Each year you take a sample of average or above average (applicants must have a high school education and no criminal history, and must pass some health tests as well; they must also show they will not be a burden to society once they get in) from countries around the world with historically low immigration rates to your country.

Essentially these are candidates that have self-selected as being willing to start anew in a new country, working hard to improve their lives in the process. In return, your culture is enriched and your economy is boosted by a fresh set of ambitious, hard-working 1st-generation immigrants. Some of these immigrants may go on to become engineers, teachers, doctors, cab drivers, entrepreneurs, nurses etc. But they won't drain your social safety net, they will contribute to it. They're here to work, to make up for lost time, and to make a better future for their offspring. As immigration policies go, I think this is one of the better ones.

I think what is more important is that since this administration took over, rejection rates for skilled visa applications have skyrocketed.


As someone who has had to respond to two RFEs so far - once for my initial H1B application and once for my green card application, I get the feeling that I am not wanted in this country. I have seriously contemplated moving back overseas more than once.

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Pres. Obama deported more immigrants his first term than Bush.

> White House announcement before congressional vote on STEM Jobs Act puts president in opposition to many of the Silicon Valley firms and executives who bankrolled his re-election campaign.

it's sad that this was the point cnet chose to highlight as the subheading. bankrolling a politician's campaign should not create in him a sense of obligation.

I hope all the Obama supporters here still feel good about helping re-elect the man.

Rest assured he is still going to support amnesty for unskilled illegals who are more likely to vote Democrat for years to come.

EDIT: It is pretty funny how the downvoters fail to acknowledge the basic facts about the politics of the issue and instead fall for the Administration's excuses and rush to condemn "conspiracy theories". There are no theories here, just basic facts.

Chill out. This has nothing to do with skilled/unskilled, illegal/legal. Its about reform for all of immigration policy, not just those who can already make a living for themselves anywhere. Plus, and I hate to say it, but there's very clearly much greater need (not demand, need) for the sorts of jobs 'unskilled illegals' end up doing than the high-skill (read: class) jobs that this piece of legislation addresses.

And stop this immigrants-voting-schtick conspiracy theory. The impact their inclusion would make would doubtly even be within the margin of error. People have much better things to do.

I disagree. There is a larger need for skilled workers: that's why they command much higher wages.

I think dmk23 is right. Since Obama got elected there seems to be a higher rate of denials for H1B applications and renewals, without clear guidelines why. Looks like pressure from above. See http://www.indianexpress.com/news/obama-warned-over-h1b-visa...

It does seem like Obama favors unskilled immigration (amnesty for illegals and the like) over skilled immigration, which I think frankly, is stupid and short-sighted, pandering to his increasingly powerful latino (mostly Mexican-American) voters.

Right,the american economy is in danger of tanking if the country does not hire more janitors.Science and Engineering phds can look after themselves elsewhere,Canada maybe?

If you kicked out all of the undocumented workers currently working in the US tomorrow, I can absolutely guarantee you that the American economy would immediately collapse.

You need more of both.

California's -- in particular -- argicultural economy is highly reliant on unskilled, migrant workers. Producing food for people to eat is somewhat important.

Wisconsin produces half as much food as California[1] with 50 times fewer illegal immigrants[2]. I won't vouch for that site's data but having lived in both states I don't see any reason to distrust these particular numbers.

[1]http://www.statemaster.com/graph/ind_foo_man_tot_val_of_shi-... [2]http://www.statemaster.com/graph/peo_est_num_of_ill_imm-peop...

This is a complete WAG, but if I were to take a stab in the dark, I suspect the makeup of Wisconsin's agriculture industry is rather different than California's.

It looks like Wisconsin's industry is geared largely toward livestock and dairy, with fruit and vegetable crops largely composed of things like cranberries, corn, and potatoes:


California, on the other hand, apparently produces "nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables."


It's my understanding that migrant workers in CA are largely employed picking fruits, vegetables, etc.

Again, I'm by no means speaking authoritatively here, but there's certainly more to this than simply comparing the dollar-value of each state's combined agricultural output.

There is no doubt the makeup of Wisconsin's agriculture industry is different. The climate alone is very different between these two states, not counting other things like availability of irrigated land, energy, transportation etc.

Edit: I was just trying to make a point that being in the country illegally does not seem like a necessary condition of food production and WI is a fine example of it. I also have no doubt that if WI had more illegal immigrants available they could be employed in the agriculture just as much as they are in CA. It just happens the closest border to WI is with Canada and Canadians don't seem to be very enthusiastic about working illegally in the America's Dairyland.

Well, part of what I was getting at is that it appears, from my layman's point of view, that WI's agriculture business is geared more toward crops that are easily industrialized and would require fewer workers in general.

e.g., a single worker operating a piece of machinery can harvest hundreds of acres of corn. A tomato, on the other hand, has to be hand-picked so that the fruit isn't damaged in the process. That requires substantially more workers.

I would daresay more important than, for example, another social networking mobile app. Not that there's anything wrong with another app, but I'd rather eat.

The immigrants-voting-schtick ain't no conspiracy theory. It's simple demographics (~10million x ~70% ~= net +4 million votes for the Democrats). I'm pro-amnesty, but ignoring the obvious electoral effect and the partisan interests around it is just not thinking clearly.

> (not demand, need)


Sorry but there is a difference between the two out there in the real world.

The bill presented is crap. That is a fact.

I'm not sure it was a good idea to oppose this. It's essentially the republicans saying "We don't want to let any more people in the country, but of the people we are letting in, we prefer the highly educated". In a time when countries like China are graduating 50k engineers a year, you'd think being choosy about who you let into the country would make sense. And I don't see how signing this hurts the Democrats' long term plan for immigration reform. I assume that involves bringing more people into the country, so ok, bring more in later when the economy recovers. Not compromising on this bill setting a bad precedence for any compromise that may happen in the future.

It takes away the Republicans' opportunity to claim they already addressed immigration reform and that any further action is the President "going too far."

The Republicans are between a rock and a hard place politically on immigration. Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in the country, and Republican hostility toward immigration reform is starting to cost them in elections. e.g., Obama pummeled Romney among Latino voters in Florida by an over 2-to-1 margin. [1]

The Republicans have essentially painted themselves into a corner on the issue and are in a no-win situation. If they continue to aggressively oppose immigration reform, it's going to hurt them with an increasingly-important demographic. If they concede and compromise, Obama and the Democrats get to claim themselves as the champions of immigration reform, which still hurts the Republicans, though to a lesser degree.

Obama knows he has major leverage over the Republicans on this issue; it doesn't make political sense to make concessions they can paint as wins if it's not the reform he's actually after.

[1] http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/11/07/latino-voters-in-the-2...

Thanks for the insight, I suppose it does sound like he made the right choice for his party. Interesting.

It really makes sense from a negotiation standpoint. It's generally expected that immigration reform will be a banner issue for Obama this term, and this bill was likely an attempt by the Republicans to get out ahead of the issue before more sweeping legislation is introduced.

By refusing to cooperate on this bill, it signals that the White House and the Senate are unwilling to let the Republicans pick and choose on reform, meaning that the issue is going to be addressed in the more comprehensive manner that the Democrats feel is necessary.

IEEE-USA is for this bill? I always thought they were in the camp that this drives down tech wages and promotes ageism.

If they're not going to let foreigners educated in US universities stay, then they shouldn't let foreigners take up space in universities. It makes no sense to make the seat available with no possibility of intellectual payback.

Remember the house likes to do the opposite of what he wants.

Too bad he didn't want single payer.

Sweet, delicious irony....

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