For all of the lip service that gets paid to promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology, the government can be surprisingly slow to take steps that could help the companies and people that create it.
One of the most telling examples is our immigration policy. According to a new paper from Darrell West, Allan Friedman, and Walter Valdivia of the Brookings Institution, it’s one of several barriers we maintain that keep us from taking full advantage of the digital economy.
This chart, which shows the proportion of foreign born tech founders in Silicon Valley and the United States from 1995 to 2005, is a clear illustration of how we’re holding ourselves back:
We should be doing everything we can to encourage people who have the capacity to create tech companies to stay. Instead, we make it difficult with things like per country visa caps and limited student visas.
The paper suggests a couple of solutions, namely that we give visas to foreign born students that get graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, or maths, pass the DREAM act so young people can stay in the country, and take steps to make it easier for entrepreneurs to stay here.
Right now, if you invest $1 million in a new startup and create 10 new jobs, you can get a green card. The authors argue that that’s too high of a threshold, and that lowering it to $250,000 would create more opportunities.
Crisis management may have been the only policy we could manage during the recession, but we can and should be more ambitious now.
Find the paper here
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