Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's the thought that counts

When a foundation funds research showing that US visa policy is causing skilled immigrants to go home, what happens if the research doesn't actually show that?  No worries.  Just act as though it did.  The press won't notice.  At least that is what happened to the Kauffman Foundation study of why skilled immigrants go home.

The study looks at a population that contains up to one-third student visa holders -- many of whom never intended to stay in the US -- and asks why they went home.  This plays on American assumptions that no one wants to leave the US, ever.  In fact that's not true.  Illegal immigrants came here in recent years at the rate of one million a year, but the illegal population only grew by about five or six hundred thousand, because four hundred thousand went home each year. 

So it's no surprise that legal immigrants go home, either.  The only interesting question is whether our visa policy is somehow driving away the best and the brightest. 

Answer:  no.  Though you wouldn't know it from the press coverage (or the foundation's PR campaign). Three quarters of those polled said that visa issues didn't cause them to leave the US.  But the foundation and the press were determined, notwithstanding the recession and the lack of data, to treat the study as a reason to liberalize visa policy. 

There may be  reasons to do that.  This study ain't one of them.

1 comment:

Steve said...

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