The following op-ed, “Immigration and the death of the recovery,” by Vivek Wadhwa, a senior research associate for the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, appeared June 29 in the Washington Post.

According to Wadhwa, the United States economy will suffer unless we make it easier for foreign nationals who have studied in the U.S. to stay in the country to start their careers.  

He writes: “That the immigration debate attracts extremists in the midst of the worst economic times since the Great Depression is not a surprise. But the economic future of the U.S. depends on the way in which we deal with immigration and, by extension, the way in which this country competes effectively for the best and brightest in the world.”

Wadhwa, a technology entrepreneur, is also an executive in residence/adjunct professor for the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University and a columnist for His company, Relativity Technologies, was named one of the 25 “coolest” companies in the world by Fortune Magazine.

Immigration and the Death of the Recovery

by Vivek Wadhwa

Sadly, this is what the immigration debate has been reduced to: You are either a patriot or a traitor. There is no in-between and little logic. Now, as the U.S. economy sputters and stalls, is precisely the time to welcome the smartest, most ambitious people on Earth. The only thing our political leaders are able to agree on, unanimously, is to further close the U.S. border, and pay for this by sanctioning companies that train and import highly skilled talent into the U.S.

The timing of the immigration battles couldn’t be worse. Just as China has become the second-largest economy in the world and India follows on its heels to become number three, their best and the brightest are losing interest in coming to the U.S. Immigrant entrepreneurs and foreign engineering students—who receive 60 percent of America’s engineering Ph.D.s and 40 percent of its master’s—are headed home.

If you visit New Delhi or Shanghai and meet tech entrepreneurs there, you get a sense of how much has changed. In April, my research team at Duke and the University of California-Berkeley completed a survey of 153 workers who had studied or worked in the U.S. and returned to India to start companies, and 111 who went back to China. We learned that the majority are doing better at home than they believe they would do in the U.S. … Read the entire article »