Bill Gates Under Fire For Immigration Stance After Microsoft Layoffs

Justin Streight - Author

Jul. 20 2014, Updated 8:53 a.m. ET

Bill Gates is coming under attack after co-writing an op-ed piece that called for more visas for skilled tech workers, while at nearly the same time Microsoft was firing some 18,000 people.

According to Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, those workers need to take priority over skilled immigrants.

“Mr. Gates says we need to let more and more people into our country to take those kinds of jobs,” Sessions said. “We need them working first before we bring more people in… I don’t think you can make the argument that we have a labor shortage.”

Although Bill Gates is no longer the CEO of Microsoft, the company he co-founded, he still sits on the company’s board as chairman. Whether Mr. Gates knew about the lay-offs while writing his opinion piece remains unknown.

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The op-ed piece, co-authored by Sheldon Adelson and Warren Buffett, slammed Congress for failing to pass an immigration bill. The three authors insisted that America deserved better than a dysfunctional Congress that could not pass a desperately needed law.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Bill Gate’s call to action did not promote specific immigration reform ideas, with two exceptions: immigrant investor programs and visa programs for highly skilled STEM workers.

Mr. Gates and other tech industry figure heads have said for years that there is a labor shortage in STEM fields in America, despite high unemployment numbers.

Now Jeff Sessions, a steadfast critic of the Senate immigration bill, is launching a counter attack on Bill Gates ideas, and he’s not alone.

Academics from National Research of Economic Research RAND corporation and others have regarded the idea of a tech labor shortage as a myth, with no true evidence to back up the claims.

According to professors Daniel Kuehn, B. Lindsay Lowell, and Hal Salzman, American colleges turn out more engineers and scientists than the market can employ every year, about 200,000 more. At the same time, many companies in the IT industry fill their rosters with guest workers.

As a result, wages in tech industry have been stagnate.

Their findings are reinforced by the anecdotes of thousands of tech workers unable to find middle class employment. Those workers will soon be joined 18,000 newly unemployed workers from Microsoft.

Bill Gates has yet to reply to Jeff Sessions criticism. Even though America seems no closer to a passable immigration bill, Mr. Gates op-ed piece has certainly stoked the fire in the debate.

[Image Credit: Ramin Talaie/ Getty Images]


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