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Retrogression, priority dates and Visa bulletins Issues surrounding the retrogression of the priority dates for the various employment based categories

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Old 03-29-2007, 01:58 PM
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Default Mercury News Article

--------------TEXT -------------

Tech group says U.S. loses ground to rivals
By Constance Loizos
Mercury News
Article Launched: 03/28/2007 01:46:07 AM PDT

The United States' position of leadership in science and technology is steadily being eroded by a series of missteps, a Washington-based high-tech industry group warns in a report being released today.

Using member testimonials and U.S. government data, the AeA - formerly known as the American Electronics Association - paints a disquieting picture in its 32-page, six-month-long study.

Largely, the report highlights the heightened competition facing the United States as "other countries catch up," including South Korea, which according to data cited in the report from the U.S. National Science Foundation, has passed the United States in the numbers of engineering undergraduate degrees that it is awarding, along with China and Japan.

Indeed, while the issues highlighted in this report were first examined by the AeA two years ago in a study titled "Losing the Competitive Advantage?" the group wanted to "better emphasize possible courses of action" in its newest report, according to one of the study's two authors, Matthew Kazmierczak, a vice president of research and analysis at the AeA.

Among its suggestions: lowering barriers for high-skilled individuals to receive temporary work visas and giving green cards to all U.S.-educated students with master's and doctorate degrees.

It also laments "waning commitments" to research and development by the government and the low math and proficiency scores of kindergarten through 12th-grade American



students as reasons why the United States is falling behind - and why it needs to act quickly to reverse the trend.
Charlie Sundling, chairman and chief executive of Santa Ana enterprise software company Pipeline Group, said the report's focus on the need for more and better visas for foreign-born workers is a subject that is particularly important to him.

Pipeline, an AeA member, has "had several guys who haven't been able to get their green cards, including three or four who've been here for five years," said Sundling, who added that a couple of years ago, he "lost" one individual who visited his home in India and was denied entry back into the United States.

"The irony is that after five or six years, we're sending these people back who immediately found their own companies and become our stiffest competition," he said. "They leave armed not only with intellectual property, but they gain material advantages, often operating in environments where labor costs are one-fifth what they are in the U.S."

Tom Campbell, dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, echoed that point, saying, "It's crazy to educate (foreign-born workers) at taxpayer expense, with federal money, then see them go" back home to start or work for companies in other countries.

Not everyone sees trouble ahead, however, including University of California-Davis computer science Professor Norman Matloff, who has written extensively about immigration and employment issues, as well as conducted his own research. While Matloff agreed that "huge" visa reform is needed, he said the biggest problem for foreign-born workers is that they are often subject to "legal wage" requirements, which are often lower than what Americans receive for the same work.

Of the shortage of engineers in the United States, Matloff called it "baloney. We have plenty of engineers. All you have to do is look at starting salaries. They're not going up, and they would be if there were a shortage."

Indeed, asked if Pipeline had ever laid off any engineers, Sundling said the company has. "We went through the dot-com ramp-up and down the other side, and we did lay off engineers." Still, he said, "We've also faced repeated challenges in recruiting capable talent in the United States. That's not an imaginary problem."

Contact Constance Loizos at or (415) 613-9700.
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