DEC 23, 1996

Arthur Hu

Immigration Maybe and Fact

While Asian activists are turning their big guns on affirmative action for other minorities, they've ignored the one individual who deserves the most credit for trying to keep Bill Gates from hiring more immigrant engineers, and take nursing home money from penniless Chinese grandmothers. This man is none other than our own Professor Norman Matloff of the University of California at Davis. An ethnic Jew and Democrat married into the Chinese American community, he has been widely published and cited nationwide and on the internet at ftp://heather.cs. on issues of Chinese immigration.

A house of cards rests on one busy man whose underlying motivation appears to be a fervent anti-Chinese sentiment which done more to discredit the accomplishments and talents of the Chinese Americans than any individual or organization since the Workingman's party of California the late 19th century. They were a Western version of the KKK who also argued that Chinese immigration was harmful when harassing and murdering Chinese for fun and for profit was a fact of life, and achieved the goal of cutting off all Chinese immigration, something that Matloff appears to be working towards as his ultimate goal.

If you strip away his pleas to save the African Americans, Chinese family values, and displaced workers, Matloff's real target are the Chinese. To him, they are low-paid, racist, and inferior labor and welfare cheats who displace American workers and destroy decent places like Monterey Park and Oakland. He abuses his insider knowledge and academic office to de-construct one of the only racial groups whose disproportionate contribution to high tech, academic achievement, and low rate of use of entitlements can approach that of the Jewish Americans. Only Mein Kampf does as thorough a job of de-constructing an overachieving minority to paint them as inferior and a social menace.

One fellow wrote in the New Republic that "huddled masses" need jobs. But if you compute how many jobs are lost for each immigrant, we find that 19.7 million jobs were created in the decade from 1983-93, over twice the 8,948,475 immigrants who arrived during 1983-92. That's two jobs were CREATED for every immigrant. Even if you don't buy the argument that a housecleaner puts a working Anglo woman to work, or that a company like Computer Associates hires thousands, it proves that something is creating enough jobs with enough left over for the natives.

Immigration has lead to lower, not higher rates of unemployment, rivaling rates not seen since the 1960s, and a far cry of double digit rates of the 1970s. Doctors and engineers have the lowest rates of unemployment, now 1 percent or lower. Silicon Valley and Los Angeles with the highest percentages of immigrants have the lowest rates of unemployment and the most jobs.

Some try to debunk that immigrants are so highly qualified that they are 25 to over 30 percent of Silicon Valley and Microsoft jobs. Asians get the highest SAT math scores. Asians are 30 percent of MIT and over half of Berkeley engineering students, not counting the foreign students . Many key people or founders of industry leaders like Sun, Microsoft and Intel are immigrants. Immigrants are far better educated, with between 1/3 to 1/2 of people at the Ph.D. level, and the best and brightest know no borders. Even the anti-immigrant Center For Immigration Studies (CIS) in Washington D.C. published data that show native-born and immigrant Chinese and Indians are engineers at 3 to 4 times the rates of most native whites, while immigrant blacks are nearly equal to native whites.

Professor Matloff sidesteps low unemployment by claiming that displaced defense programmers like one he calls "Cindy" would be hired if not for immigrants. But to support his cause, Matloff creates a bizarre fantasy world where industry needs to hire more people like Cindy with no marketable skills or degrees ("any programmer can be productive in any technology in 30 days), while the CEOs and founders of companies like Intel, Kingston (the $70,000 bonus guys) and Yahoo, dominant giants and innovators in their fields are not only non-essential, but "harmful" to the economy. He claims the Chinese are culturally incapable of innovation, they have made no important technical innovations, and hire only other immigrants.

Matloff's idea of merit is having Berkeley admit by lottery, and discards overwhelming over-representation and over-achievement and SAT test scores of Asians by discounting "rote learning", and citing the rare under-representation of Chinese among a few academic (and possibly culturally biased) awards. He puts less value on the accomplishments of businessman Charles Wang who heads the second largest software company in the world than inventor An Wang whose company is now dead in all but name.

Immigrants are allegedly hired only because they are the cheapest not the best, and they lower salaries. But CIS data proves that Asian immigrants were equally or better paid than the native-born whites. Electrical Engineering Times and the National Science Foundation also show higher pay for immigrants. You'll have to refer to Norman Matloff for "proof" immigrants make less, but it is simply incorrect once you check the fine print that he equalizes for education when immigrants have much more education, and looks only at Santa Clara County which has higher, not lower wages than any other metro area.

Microsoft hires immigrants and foreign nationals even at the highest management levels, hardly a good strategy for scrimping on salaries. Every survey shows medicine and engineering to be the highest paid fields at their degree levels, and computer engineering growth appears to be limited only by the number of people that can be hired to fill the jobs. Despite, or because of immigration, living standards have improved by nearly every measure when American drive and live in better homes and cars, take better vacations, and can now afford increasingly more powerful computers for less money.

Only a true racist uses African Americans as a wedge to devalue and denigrate another "race", the immigrant Americans. The CIS says that immigrants "may" be keeping Blacks out of engineering, but their own tables showed that, if anything, importing more immigrants has increased the number of blacks almost as fast as the Asians themselves. Matloff claims Asians take educational resources away from minorities, but in an age when integration is a key strategy, the only group holding up test scores in districts like Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle when most whites have fled to the suburbs are the Asians. By nearly every measure, Blacks are increasing in every desirable profession, and their test scores and rates of high school and college graduation are better, not worse than before the latest wave of immigration. Immigrant Asians are the only ones brave and open minded enough to keep open retail establishments and provide medical services in the inner cities.

Every story about Chinese elderly welfare "fraud" leads to Norman Matloff. But the only "fraud" is a loophole that is literally big enough to drive a busload of elderly Chinese through - a promise of support that is NOT an enforceable promise never to apply for SSI, which is what you get when you haven't worked long enough to qualify for social security. Matloff's efforts have resulted in cutting off all elderly noncitizens whether their children drive BMW's or not. But that doesn't satisfy Matloff, whose next goal is to cut off naturalized elderly, even if it means cutting off all such immigration. But of working-age Californians, only 1.8% of Asian citizens 16-64 use welfare, lower than any other group including 2.9% for whites. If you agree with MIT's Lester Thurow that Social Security is basically a welfare system, and break out refugees, Asians actually use much less welfare than whites. Immigrants are a younger population with far fewer elderly. Social Security is busting the budget, not the tiny number of Chinese on SSI, but working Asians and Hispanics are actually helping keep social security solvent.

Alien Nation says immigrants import crime, but Asians have a lower arrest rate for nearly every crime reported by the Justice Department. If you remove the illegal immigrants, and legal immigrants commit fewer crimes. Thomas Sowell worries about TB and weird third-world diseases, but overall, Asians and Hispanics have equal or better indicators for every health risk like cancer, infant mortality and life expectancy. Yeh Yeh Ling warns that population increase will bring an environmental apocalypse, but air and water are CLEANER in American than 20 years ago, and natural resources are CHEAPER, not more scarce. Matloff says that immigration is merely importing racism. Yet Asians and Hispanics commit the lowest rates of hate crimes, and most surveys show Asians to be very supportive of affirmative action even at the expense of their own.

My immigration web page at / arthurhu /index/immig.htm has even more facts, but as you can see, "may" shouldn't hide bottom line of higher incomes and standard of living, more jobs, and a better quality of life for nearly everyone. The real value of conservatism and optimism is a world where everybody wins, and nobody is the object of blame for economic decline that just isn't there.