Get more smart Indians to US: George Bush
Friday, 26 January 2007, 06:00 Hrs
Washington: President George Bush says one aim of his proposed comprehensive immigration reform was to hike H1B visas to let smart people from India and elsewhere come to solve America's problems. "It makes no sense to say to a young scientist from India, you can't come to America to help this company develop technologies that help us deal with our problems," he said in a talk to employees of science major DuPont on energy issues at Wilmington, Delaware. "So we've got to change that, as well, change that mindset in Washington, DC. I know we can work together on that," Bush said Tuesday noting that "it's in our interests" to allow a smart person from overseas to come and work in US. "We've got to expand what's called H1B visas (for skilled foreign workers)," he said in an aside about the immigration bill. But, it was an issue "I feel strongly about" and he was looking forward to work with Congress "to do just that." The H1B visa program is currently capped at 65,000 and efforts are on to expand it to 115,000 to meet what high-tech industry executives say is a worrisome shortage of high skilled people. But critics say inviting more foreign workers will only displace American workers and drive down salaries. The last Congress rejected such a measure, but a new bill is expected to be introduced again in the 110th Democratic controlled Congress. While Bush cited the example of India to make a case for freer movement of skilled professionals, he pointed to the growing economies of India and China to press for an expansion of trade saying they could help meet America 's energy challenges. "We're in a global economy. And so when the Chinese economy grows, or the Indian economy grows - which we want it to do, by the way - when their economy grows, it provides markets for your products," he said. "So it's in our interests that we trade." But one has to understand that when the globe becomes interconnected economically, the demand increases in other countries can cause the price of oil to go up in US, and it has an economic effect on America's own economy, he said. "The more dependent we are on oil from overseas, the more likely it is that somebody else's demand is going to affect what you pay at the pump for gasoline," Bush said explaining his stress on developing new technologies to get over what he has famously described as America's addiction to oil.