Saturday, December 09, 2006

Key to U.S. industry? Immigrants

By Michael Kanellos The U.S. tech industry is dependent on people from foreign lands, according to a study from the National Venture Capital Foundation.

Over the past 15 years, immigrants have founded 25 percent of all publicly-traded companies that had venture backing, from tech companies to consumer ones. Most of the companies these immigrants start, moreover, are based around technology. And 40 percent of all publicly traded companies with venture backing in technology manufacturing were founded by immigrants.

Legal immigrants only constitute a small fraction of the population: approximately 6.7 percent of the population in 1990 and 8.7 percent today.

These businesses founded by immigrants employ 400,000 people, the study found.

Unfortunately, the number of foreigners enrolling in science and engineering graduate programs in the U.S. have been declining since 2002.

"While the debate in Congress has focused on illegal immigration, American companies have identified significant problems with our current system for admitting skilled foreign born professionals on temporary visas and green cards," the report stated.

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