America's legal immigration system is falling apart at just the time when talented foreigners have more choice than ever. Many other countries—including Australia, Canada, Britain, Germany and even France—are bending over backwards to attract talented people. European companies can easily draw on the skills of an entire continent, thanks to the free movement of labour there. At the same time the Indian and Chinese economies are booming. Indian companies such as Infosys and Wipro have California-style campuses, state-of-the-art equipment and generous pay packets (which, incidentally, allow employees to afford a house full of servants). American multinationals such as Microsoft are establishing research and development facilities across the developing world. Indians and Chinese were once willing to put up with any humiliation for a chance of a career in the United States. Now they have more and more choices back home.
The United States has attracted a large share of global talent despite favoring family re-unification over economic immigration. That worm is turning as higher education in other countries improves and innovation disperses. Concerning Pittsburgh, the pool of skilled and creative foreign nationals is shrinking, outlining a landscape of opportunity. Pittsburgh could thrive where this country is dropping the ball.
Embracing connectivity and globalization will give the region a leg up on the competition.