The Reverse Brain Drain

By John Tanton
Volume 7, Number 3 (Spring 1997)
Issue theme: "Restraining the American brain"

In this journal we have often expressed concern for the job competition that lower-skilled Americans face from immigration. We have also essayed on the ways in which the mass importation of workers, and the export of jobs under NAFTA and GATT, are two sides of the same coin. Both bring blue-collar American workers into frontal compe-tition with the underemployed or unemployed of the Third World, to the detriment of Americans' wages and working conditions.

In this issue, we look at the effects of skilled migration from the Third World on more highly-educated Americans, and at the colonization of academe - particularly in the hard sciences - by the foreign born. The effects are already widespread and of serious long term import. We could call this the Reverse Brain Drain - the loss of American brains in highly skilled fields.

Physician Mark Godec leads off with a look at the stifling effects and inter-generational inequities of the preference in medical research fields for foreign-born scientists. He tells us how this affects American scientists' prospects and their career choices, concluding that "any nation that believes it can hire people from other countries to do it's thinking is in serious trouble."

Computer Science Professor Norman Matloff shows the computer industry's claim - that needed brain power is not available domestically - for just what it is an attempt to soften the U.S. labor market.

Immigration researcher David North further distinguishes between immigrant and non-immigrant scientists and gives us the numbers involved.

In reviewing the Rand Report on higher education, David Simcox highlights the tensions and contradictions that the presence of so many foreigners is causing on campus, especially in the light of affirmative action, as well as language and cultural disparities.

We close the theme section with two reprinted articles on job prospects in high tech fields, a reminder of the 1975 John Oswald letter to Rep. Joshua Eilberg, Perry Lorenz's dissection of Cypress Semi-Conductor CEO T.J. Rodgers' arguments for importing foreign computer scientists, and an excerpt from a 1928 book showing there's nothing new about the pleas of business and agriculture for cheap foreign labor.

Increasingly, I have been hearing anecdotal evidence from highly-trained Americans who have run into what they see as unfair competition from foreigners. They are mad - and they are not going to take it anymore! Docility and resignation are gone, they are "wired" on the internet, and are getting organized for action.

Notice to our political leaders the fairly educated are a dangerous class for any society to have unemployed or disaffected. It is time to address their very real employment concerns.

The middle survey section of this issue looks at a neglected area the interior enforcement of our immigration laws, for which Congress has authorized but failed to appropriate the needed funds. This has facilitated a rapid growth in our illegally resident population, as two syndicated columnists explain. Then Don Feder gives us a taste of the seemingly immiscible character of LA's simmering "melting pot," and Leo Sorensen tells us about the Ebonics controversy in his home town-Oakland, California.

David Payne continues his search for logical fallacies in the immigration debate by examining the comments of Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot.

Our survey section closes with a fine piece on Hispanic activism by Californian Diana Hull, an article on maintaining national culture by Australian Robert Birrell, as well as reports from the Chicano conference at Michigan State University and from a meeting at Chicago drawing together local activists in immigration reform from around the country.

Pertinent books and papers are reviewed by Wayne Lutton, Don Collins, David Payne and James Walsh.

We hope you'll find this edition of our journal both helpful and stimulating reading.

John H. Tanton,

Editor and Publisher

About the author

John Tanton is Editor and Publisher of The Social Contract and founder of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His personal website is