In an essay posted on his website, Paul Graham, the co-founder and former head of YCombinator, loudly called for an increase in skilled immigration. Writing with an intensity that is unusual in his writing, Graham argued that “The US has less than 5% of the world’s population. Which means if the qualities that make someone a great programmer are evenly distributed, 95% of great programmers are born outside the US.”
His concern is that “anti-immigration” forces have thwarted reforms to our immigration system, risking America’s competitiveness in attracting the most brilliant engineers to Silicon Valley. The problem is particularly acute today, he notes, since startups face a severe talent crunch that could be ameliorated with a more open immigration policy. If we refuse to adapt, “the US could be seriously fucked,” Graham writes colorfully.
But Graham largely avoids what many tech workers think when hearing about immigration reform: “
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