The way Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham sees it, the U.S. has something to lose — a leadership position in the technology industry. Talent is a big part of that position, and Graham believes the U.S. can and should do more to allow the best technical talent to immigrate to the U.S.
“We have the potential to ensure that the U.S. remains a technology superpower just by letting in a few thousand great programmers a year,” Graham declared in a post on his personal blog today.
More than 95 percent of the world’s population lives outside the U.S., Graham pointed out, and therefore the vast majority of the best developers are born outside of the U.S. “if the qualities that make someone a great programmer are evenly distributed.”
This isn’t the first time Graham has expressed opinions on immigration. In 2009, for instance, he proposed the creation of “a new class of visa for startup founders.”
Of course Graham is hardly the only tech luminary who has argued for immigration reform lately. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last year joined up with Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings to launch FWD.US, a group that lobbies for “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Graham, for his part, appears to believe that action is urgently needed, even if letting some very good developers into the U.S. will lead to more of them wanting to come.
“And if we don’t, the U.S. could be seriously fucked,” Graham wrote today. “I realize that’s strong language, but the people dithering about this don’t seem to realize the power of the forces at work here.”