LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 16, 1995--Proposed federal laws aimed at cutting the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter the United States could severely damage the computer and semiconductor industries that rely on immigrant expertise, according to Glenn Garvin, in the April issue of Reason magazine.

Garvin, contributing editor of Reason, writes that some 15,000 Asian immigrants are employed in Silicon Valley, roughly a quarter of the work force, and the phenomenon is not limited to California. A quarter of the researchers at IBM's facility in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., are Asians, and at AT&T's Bell Labs in New Jersey, 40 percent of the researchers in the Communications Sciences Wing were born outside the United States.

`Immigrants bring with them high-tech expertise and the knowledge of the way businesses organize and market themselves in other parts of the world,` says Garvin. `But the recent battle against illegal immigrants threatens to stem the tide of legal immigrants as well.`

According to Garvin, Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming has promised to introduce a bill slashing the number of legal immigrants by 25 percent. Last year a House bill that would cut the number of legal immigrants by 65 percent immediately and 85 percent in the long run attracted 73 co-sponsors from both parties.

George Gilder, who frequently writes about international competition and the information superhighway, worries about the effect of such legislation on the high-tech industry. `At every important high-tech company in America, the crucial players, half of them, are immigrants,` says Gilder. `You exclude immigrants from our high-tech industries and what you get is Europe, where they have no important computer or semiconductor company now after 20 years of focusing on information technologies.`

Nathan Rosenberg, a Stanford economist who studies the history of technology, agrees. `A very large fraction of foreigners who come to America to study and take advanced degrees in engineering and science stay here,` says Rosenberg. `It seems to me that the American high-tech industry will suffer, will suffer tremendously, if these anti-immigration measures go into effect.`

The article points to numerous examples of immigrants who have fundamentally changed the industry and technology. Andy Grove, CEO of semiconductor giant Intel, is a Hungarian immigrant who fled Soviet tanks 12 years before joining Intel at age 31. Last year, Intel introduced the state-of-the-art Pentium microprocessor. The project is managed by Vinod Dham of India, and one of the chip's two principal architects is another Indian, Avtar Saini.

`Once we've gotten rid of the immigrants, who is going to pick the lettuce and tomatoes,` asks Garvin. `Moreover, if the federal government imposes drastic cuts in the number of legal immigrants, who is going to design the computers?`

Reason magazine is a leading social and political commentary magazine based in Los Angeles. For over a quarter of a century, Reason magazine has gone beyond Beltway politics, challenged conventional wisdom, and offered a refreshing alternative to Washington-based opinion. Reason is published by the Reason Foundation, a national public-policy research organization.


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