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Obama vs. Silicon Valley On Immigration

Publication Date: 
December 02, 2012
Source: 
The Wall Street Journal Online
Author: 
L. Gordon Crovitz

Rock Center Fellow Vivek Wadhwa spoke with the Wall Street Journal's L. Gordon Crovitz about his book "The Immigrant Exodus" and why, for the first time, there is a decline in Silicon Valley in the percentage of high-growth startups founded by immigrants.

In 1492, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Bayezid II, made a controversial decision. He ordered his navy to the Iberian Peninsula to evacuate Jews being forcibly converted to Catholicism by the Spanish Inquisition. He gave them safe haven in Turkey and throughout his Muslim empire. "You call Ferdinand a wise ruler," he told his advisers, referring to the king of Spain, "he who has impoverished his own country and enriched mine."

If only Washington could embrace the wisdom of Sultan Bayezid II. Instead, President Obama last week declared dead on arrival the latest effort to admit more skilled workers.

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Immigration scholar Vivek Wadhwa reports in his recent book, "The Immigrant Exodus," that restrictive rules are causing a brain drain. For the first time, there is a decline in Silicon Valley in the percentage of high-growth startups founded by immigrants. "Driven to despair, skilled immigrants have soured on America," responding to a "backward, destructive immigration policy," Mr. Wadhwa writes. More than one million foreigners, including many graduates of top U.S. universities, live in legal limbo. Increasingly, they're taking their skills back home.