NFAP misleads on skilled immigration (Stuart Anderson, Frank Sharry, National Foundation for American Policy)

Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy offers "The Impact of the Children of Immigrants on Scientific Achievements in America" [1], which comes to a highly misleading conclusion based on a very small sample. It's also promoted by Frank Sharry's AmericasVoice [2]. See the second link for more on the NAFP.

Based only on the fact that 70% of the finalists at the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition were the children of immigrants, Anderson comes to the conclusion that "liberalizing our nation’s immigration laws will likely yield even greater rewards for America in the future." That's simply not true. "Liberalizing" our laws would allow millions more low-skilled people to come here, primarily from Latin America, and many of those will not place a high value on education. Anderson states "[m]any immigrant parents place a heavy emphasis on education", but that's obviously not true of the great majority of those who are allowed to come here. Even Obama admits the huge problems caused by mass low-skilled immigration.

To see that Anderson is coming to a highly misleading conclusion, all you have to do is compare where most of today's immigrants are coming from to the table provided in his study. Each number is the number of finalists whose parents are from the given countries:

China 16
United States 12
India 10
Iran 1
South Korea 1

If Anderson had said something like "making it easier for parent just like those of the children in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition to come here would have rewards" he might be on the right track. But, that's not what he did. And, of course, there are problems associated with massive skilled immigration too, such as driving Americans out of jobs or increasing the political power of ethnic demagogues and even foreign countries inside the U.S.

UPDATE: I added the summary in their PDF to [1] below.

The summary:

One surprising characteristic unites the majority of America’s top high school science and math students – their parents are immigrants. While only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born, 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition were the children of immigrants, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. Just 12 of the 40 finalists at this year’s competition of the nation’s top high school science students had native-born parents. While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals. Finalists’ parents sponsored through a family preference category represented 7.5 percent of the total, about four times higher than their proportion in the U.S.

Many immigrant parents place a heavy emphasis on education, particularly in math and science, viewing this as a path to success in America. An important implication of the study is that preventing the entry of H-1B visa holders skilled immigrants, and family-sponsored immigrants would shut off the flow of a key segment of America’s next generation of scientists and engineers – the children of immigrants – because we would not have allowed in their parents. The benefit America derives from the children of immigrants in science and math is an additional advantage the country reaps from being open to talent from around the world. Americans should take pride in our openness to individuals and their children who can succeed in the United States without regard to class or place of birth. Liberalizing our nation’s immigration laws will likely yield even greater rewards for America in the future.

[2] Blog post by Bridget Feldmann: