SIIA: Software, information industry benefit economy

The Software and Information Industry Association (SIAA) issued a report today that focuses on the benefits of the software and information industry to the U.S. economy. However, SIIA officials said Congress is not doing enough to ensure the industry’s long-term viability.

The software and information industry provides the economic stimulus that is transforming other industries such as health care and higher education, according to SIIA. But association leaders who spoke at a press briefing today said a lack of comprehensive immigration reform is creating workforce problems for the software industry and the economy.

SIIA favors legislation that would enable international students who earn advanced degrees in computer science to stay in the United States and work. “It would be a relatively small fix,” said Ken Wasch, SIIA president. “You get an advanced degree in computer science from any accredited university, and you automatically receive a green card.”

In the past, the federal government has responded to special circumstances by easing visa restrictions on particular groups. Wasch said the same should be done for international students with advanced degrees in computer science.

Since the September 2001 attacks, increased scrutiny of students attending U.S. colleges and universities has hurt economic growth and competitiveness, Wasch said. Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, was a Russian student on a regular visa when he attended Stanford University, Wasch said.

“We’ve probably sent back several Sergeys, and we’ll never know it,” he said.

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