Jan 13

American CEO’s Say Immigration is Key to Business Innovation.

Discussing U.S. innovation at CES are (from left) CES President Gary Shapiro, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Cisco CEO John Chambers, and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

On Friday, during a panel discussion at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, executives from some of the top American corporations stated that if the U.S. is looking to be more innovative and wants to “compete on a global stage,” then they recommend allowing talent to enter by adjusting current immigration policies.
“We’ve made it important to protect our borders,” said Xerox CEO Ursula Burns speaking from a business standpoint. “The last thing we need to do is that.”

Executives pointed out that, if the U.S. cannot keep the foreign students it educates in the U.S., it’s “doomed to fail.”

“Today we are hanging up a sign that says, ‘You’re not welcome in this country.’ ” said Cisco CEO John Chambers. “We have got to change that.”

“We’ve got to get back to one of our key advantages — our immigration policy used to get the best and brightest to come here and stay here,” added Chambers. ”Make them American citizens, not just a green card.”

Immelt says it’s now the corporations’ responsibility to take action and see that lawmakers understand the importance of changing immigration policies.

“Business can no longer sit on the sidelines. We’ve got to fight for our future,” he said. “This is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
He added that protectionism is hurting the innovation process. With all the well educating foreign students leaving the U.S. once they graduate, all that knowledge and innovation is going elsewhere.
The three executives admit that Americans have the ability and strength to compete on a global level, but it’s going to take some changes to immigration and tax policies, and the red-tape process often holds everything up.

“The speed of innovation does not match our decision process in government or business,” said Chambers. “We’re falling behind on speed. The U.S. has the cards to be here, but we’ve got to start measuring it.”

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