Q: Write a memorandum for the President making a specific policy proposal.
Explain why you think it is important, what issues it raises, and why you think the
President should support your proposal. Please limit your memo to 500 words.
To: Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States
From: Sajjad Jaffer, a newly naturalized American
SUBJECT: FIXING THE AMERICAN BRAIN DRAIN
Compelling research shows that with enhanced global communication, US
companies and innovators are shifting from relying solely on knowledge existing
within organizations to connecting with outside sources that can be accessed
worldwide. In a networked economy, the internet is increasingly rendering
irrelevance to physical borders and organizational silos.
Our immigration policies have not kept up with this reality. The flaws identified
below show that they are designed to support brain drain and job losses while
attracting and retaining low value immigrants at the expense of American
FLAW #1: ADVERSE SELECTION
There are 1 million skilled workers on temporary work visas (H1‐B) awaiting
conversion to permanent resident status, currently capped at 120,000 per year.1
Rather than wait a decade for this conversion, during which they are restricted from
switching jobs, the smart, young ones with advanced degrees are leaving for better
opportunities in India and China. If they have been educated at US universities on
fellowship grants, we have in effect, subsidized India and China’s economies.
One can only speculate the value of an immigrant who is willing to wait for 10 years
while stuck in a single job.
FLAW #2: DOMESTIC INNOVATION V. JOB EXPORTS
In 2007, 5 of the top 6 users of the H1‐B program were Indian outsourcing
companies. Most of their employees are deputed to the US on temporary work
assignments with no intent of ever setting roots here.
Meanwhile, domestic innovators such as Google are number 16 on this list and our
oldest university, Harvard, is at number 70.
1 Wadhwa, 2007b
FLAW #3: DIVERSITY SANS MERITOCRACY
The Diversity Immigrant visa (DV) program offers 50,000 green cards annually to
randomly selected persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the US,
paying no attention to exceptional skills or economic contribution potential.
1. Award green cards to foreigners educated at US universities upon
graduation, bypassing the H1‐B probationary process, subject to security and
background checks. They should repay their entire subsidized grants and
fellowships should they decide to forfeit their US residency for opportunities
2. Institute a Singapore style system whereby preference for green cards are
given to individuals making at least $75,000 per year consistently over 5
years to ensure retention of high value taxpayers. Alternative criteria could
include number of patents filed or number of jobs created over this period.
3. Eliminate the Diversity Immigrant (DV) program in its entirety.
4. Create a separate visa class for outsourcing firms so that their quotas do not
compete with companies looking to fill jobs domestically.
Skilled immigrants matter to the health and dynamism of our economy, as has been
repeatedly stated by our nation’s leading CEOs. They have started over 50% of
Silicon Valley’s companies and have contributed to more than 25% of our global
patents.2 Immigrant founded companies have created 450,000 high tech jobs
contributing $52 billion in revenues.3
Mr. President, implementing these meritocratic recommendations will ensure jobs,
tax dollars, and patents are retained within our shores rather than lost to our global
(Sources: Excluded due to space limits. Available upon request)
2 Wadhwa, 2009
3 Wadhwa, 2007a
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