The Blue Card Scare
Sanchez, Rob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett recently made dire predictions that the next Silicon Valley will not be in the United States because of restrictive immigration policies and that a brain drain from the United States to Europe will cause an economic Armageddon.
In his hypothetical scenario, the United States would lose out in the competition for talent as the best inventors and entrepreneurs migrate to Europe.
This scaremongering is a smoke screen to hide Barrett's desire to increase the labor supply, thereby slashing labor costs.
High-tech industries such as Intel routinely make false claims that there are shortages of qualified Americans. Anecdotal claims of shortages are touted in order to make the corporate case for increasing the number of H-1B visas. Several recent studies, such as one by the Urban Institute, prove that the United States is creating fewer high-tech jobs than the number of qualified people who are entering the work force.
Intel's claims that it can't find enough talented workers is dubious, especially considering that Intel is eliminating thousands of jobs in locations such as New Mexico, California and Oregon. If Intel is having such a tough time finding qualified workers, why are they firing so many workers already in their employ?
Barrett asks us to take a leap of faith when he warns that worldwide shortages of high-tech workers are endemic. He furthers his argument by saying that Europe will win the competition to attract scarce talent when the European Union institutes a new visa called the "blue card." Like the H-1B visa in the United States, the blue card would be a temporary guest-worker visa that indentures each worker to the employer.
Other similarities between the H-1B visa and the blue card include their not-so-subtle purpose of undercutting and replacing more expensive domestic work forces. Both the blue card and H-1B visa offer temporary employment and after a set number of years a path to citizenship.
If passed, Europe would not be able to use blue cards to drain our human capital because both continents have worker gluts, not shortages. There is an even more obvious reason none of this is likely to happen: Europe doesn't have a blue card program yet and it's just as likely that it never will.
European labor groups have been resisting the blue card because they don't want a fiasco like the H-1B program foisted upon them. …