Voices Loud and Soft

For those endeavoring to penetrate the maze of politics and special interests involved in the complicated process of immigration reform legislation,offers some intriguing news. “From corporate America to Indian techies to Indian-Americans with family ties to their native land—all are lobbying hard to influence changes in the proposed immigration law that has started moving through the US legislative labyrinthine. Concerned that some ‘aggressively protectionist’ provisions in the bipartisan legislation proposed by the so-called Senate Gang of Eight would adversely affect US-India trade ties, a leading association of over 300 US firms doing business with India [the U.S.-India Business Council] is engaging a lobbying firm as it once did to push the landmark India-US nuclear deal,” the paper reports.

In addition, “Concerned about the potential to apply new rules in a discriminatory manner against Indian companies, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) too is planning to engage a lobbying firm to make its case on the Capitol Hill, the seat of the US Congress,” the article adds. 

Most people in industry are pleased with the bill’s skilled-worker provisions, believing that they’ll be good for business. These organizations, though, are concerned about provisions that would penalize offshore-outsourcing companies, which, according to , are the largest users of H-1B visas.

Just about every interest—every constituency—seems to have a voice in the debate over the new immigration bill, except one: As this correspondent reported in an article that appeared elsewhere, the voices of early-career scientists don’t seem to be reaching the ears of elected representatives. That piece recounts a visit to the office of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D–MD) of two STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers. The proposed legislation, they said, would worsen their situation. That’s not the argument, the staffers said, that the senator “normally encounters on this issue,” adding that STEM-workers’ views “would have more impact” if they “represented a large, organized group.”

Those two STEM-workers’ views are, of course, typical of a sizable group—some 90,000 postdocs, a quarter million Ph.D. students, countless un- and underemployed scientists—but it is not well-organized and it doesn’t exert much influence, even within the scientific community. It would be good if they, too, had lobbyist.

You Can’t Judge a Scientist Using Journal Impact Factors

Going Rogue