Saturday, September 6, 2008

Foreign Students, HB1 Visas, and University Funding

Brad Hem, the author of the article below that discusses a speech by the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, also quotes Mark Krikorian* who represents a far-right wing anti-immigration group.  Hem does not mention the nature of the organization Krikorian represents.  Wouldn't have that been the ethical thing to do?

Hem also mentions the fact that Rice University is the only Texas college listed in the top 25 of the U.S. News & World Report.  Being a Rice graduate, I think its great that Rice is being recognized for it's excellence.  As for other Texas universities not being ranked high - I can't say why UT and TAMU are ranking better, considered how much money they get from all those Texas oil wells.  But the University of Houston will only be able to rank higher when the Texas legislature decides UH is worth the money for investment.  The State of Texas starves UH, and the legislature is very aware of this.  Considering that UH has survived fairly well with its main funding base being student tuition, there should be much hope that with adequate state funding, the university could really excel.

Mr. Hem, don't blame the universities themselves - take a look at how much Texas spends on its public higher education.
Banker says policy drains foreign talent
Fed leader wants to make it easier for skilled workers to stay in U.S.

By BRAD HEM Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Sept. 4, 2008, 10:48PM

U.S. immigration policy is stifling economic growth by making it too difficult for foreign skilled workers to stay in the country, the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said during a speech in Houston Thursday.

Richard Fisher told the Greater Houston Partnership luncheon crowd that 55 percent of engineering master's degrees and 75 percent of doctorates awarded by major Texas universities go to foreign students. Those lucky enough to get an H-1B visa then have to wait 10 years to get a green card, while Australia and the European Union are taking steps to open their borders to skilled foreign workers.

"So where do you think these wonderful students that we have educated in universities subsidized by taxpayer money and private endowments are going to go?" he asked.

Fisher, himself a child of immigrants, likened the situation to a company spending money to drill exploratory wells and then when they're proven, giving away all the oil and gas.

In a speech that touched on a variety of economic issues, Fisher said there is a 50-50 chance inflation will continue to worsen even as economic growth slows. It will likely be well into 2009 before the economy rebounds from the "flotsam and jetsam of the credit and housing debacle," he said.

The third quarter is off to a weak start based on construction, personal consumption expenditures and real capital spending, he said.

Fisher declined to say how he will vote when the Federal Open Market Committee considers interest rate increases on Sept. 16. He has recently been at odds with the rest of the group, voting repeatedly in favor of tightening monetary policy.

On inflation, Fisher is considered the most hawkish member of the committee, a label he said Thursday doesn't do justice to his approach to monetary policy, though he allowed that inflation is one of his top concerns.

He said there are two scenarios for how inflation will play out. The first is that slow growth will dampen inflation, an outcome that would rely heavily on the continuing drop in the prices of energy and other commodities, he said.

The second is that inflation spreads and infiltrates the mind-sets of consumers and business operators, leading them to change their behavior, he said. He warned against "a self-reinforcing wage-price spiral in response to upward pressures in the cost of living."

It's too early to tell which way things might go, Fisher said.

On the bright side, Fisher noted "Americans are champion exporters," and Texas recently passed California as the top exporting state. In 2007, the country sold $1.1 trillion in goods to foreign consumers.

But Texas has room for improvement in its universities. Houstonians should be proud, Fisher said, that Rice University was ranked 17th in last year's U.S. News and World Report survey of top colleges. But it was the only Texas school in the top 25, and six schools in the University of California system ranked ahead of the University of Texas at Austin.

High-performing college graduates drive economic growth, and Texas will not continue to be an economic powerhouse unless major universities catch up to Rice, he said.

That led Fisher to his commentary on immigration, and he encouraged the crowd to pressure Congress for change.

But before lawmakers make it easier for foreign workers to stay in the country, they need to ask why they're being allowed in in the first place, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C.

Krikorian said foreign students are often preferred not because they are more promising, but because they are willing to do research for professors for less pay than Americans. And after graduation, they work for companies for less pay than U.S. graduates would demand.

"There's no real rationale for it, other than universities getting cheap labor," Krikorian said.

for link to article click here
The New York Times describes Krikorian as: 
*Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which opposes bills that would let some longtime illegal residents achieve legal status. [says Krikorian] “First of all, almost all the people filing tax returns are doing it because they’re going to get tax refunds,” ... “It’s a bad thing, because they’re not obeying the law — they’re deciding which laws they prefer to obey. If they were interested in demonstrating their law-abiding nature, they would pack up and go home.”

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