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Photius Coutsoukis, President of ITA
Interviewed on Public Radio -- 10-May-1996

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Pre-Interview Announcement:
Lucy Edwards (Anchor): "A Medford businessman and immigrant says  
                        new immigration legislation will hurt the 
- - - - - - - - - - - -

Edwards: Immigration legislation passed by both the House of
     Representatives and the Senate is expected to be signed
     by President Clinton soon.  

     The legislation was introduced by Senator Dole for Senator
     Alan Simpson, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's
     Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee issues.

     Among other things, the bill cuts back on legal immigration
     to the U.S.

     Photius Coutsoukis, a Greek immigrant, is the president and
     owner of Information Technology Associates in Medford. 

     His business is currently the only provider of immigration
     software to individuals. They provide a database of
     information about immigration and immigration forms.

     Coutsoukis says the latest legislation might be good for his
     business, but it won't be good for the U.S. as a whole.

Coutsoukis:  The intended purpose of the bill is to restrict
     illegal immigration, but, for political reasons, certain
     restrictions have been placed also on legal immigration and
     those are the ones I would be concerned about the most, as  
     far as business is concerned.

     As far as my own business is concerned, the more
     restrictions the better, of course, because it makes it more
     likely that somebody would need a computer program, in order
     to navigate the daunting immigration bureaucracy. But for
     business in general it is not so good, because it penalizes
     employers, and in particular employers of individuals with
     extraordinary abilities and education and who are the most
     likely to contribute.

     Let me give you an example.  Currently, those who are in
     college in the United States can proceed for and adjust
     status to permanent residence, or somebody who can work

     There is a proposal where there would have to be a three
     year period, during which these individuals would have to
     work in their own country before they can apply.

     Now, given that, somebody like myself, for example, who came
     to the United States to go to college and proceeded to enter
     the work force, would not have been here. If I had to go
     back to Greece, I think that, after three years, I would
     have decided to stay there, and I know that that is not

     Consider the fact that a huge number, a large percentage, of
     those who receive PhDs in engineering, for example, in the
     United States, are foreign born. If those individuals do
     not have the opportunity to practice their skills in the
     United States upon graduation, there is a lesser likelihood
     that they would stay here and, instead, they would take
     their talents elsewhere.

Edwards: In some ways it would hurt the United States. It might
     actually help the countries of origin. It may help India or

Coutsoukis: Yes, yes.

Edwards: ...if the PhDs were to return.

Coutsoukis: Yes, exactly. It is not only this. Consider, for
     example, that there is a limited pool of certain skills in
     the United States and the purpose of legal immigration has
     been, and should be, to bring individuals with the skills
     that are not easily available here.
     Now, if, say, a large company like Hewlett Packard, who need
     a large number of technical individuals, cannot find them
     locally, they would, instead, export the work to, say,
     India. India has the world's largest population of computer
     programmers, to my knowledge. And, I am sure, China is
     another large talent pool.

     Now, if these projects are exported, then the jobs are
     exported. If the individuals from those countries are
     allowed to come here, then the jobs stay here, even if they
     are performed by individuals who are foreign born, who, of
     course, pay taxes -- they come from countries, usually,
     where paying taxes is not such a bad idea -- and who may
     start their own companies, who contribute locally, here.

Edwards: What do you think is the purpose of the current
     immigration bill, in terms of both, you know, on the surface
     of what it looks like and perhaps a deeper purpose of why
     the fixation with immigration.
Coutsoukis: Well, the stated purpose is to limit illegal
     immigration and, to some extent, I suppose it may succeed,
     but the unintended purposes and the subliminal ideas behind
     it, are not necessarily straight forward. 
     There has been a lot of political backlash against
     immigration, in general. Anti-immigration is a popular
     issue, just like where, recently, the Republicans brought up
     that spouses have to be of the opposite sex,  made that an
     issue. During an election year [it] becomes something that
     is not the relevant issue but it becomes a popular issue
     with the voters. So, this is what is causing the new bill to
     not  be what it is intended to be.

Edwards: So, in other words, like anti-immigrant sentiment in the
     general population ...

Coutsoukis: Exactly. Just like  ...

Edwards: ...fuels ...

Coutsoukis: ... there is an anti-gay sentiment...

Edwards: That's right.

Coutsoukis: ... and in order to satisfy a public, they would do
     something like this. Now, other unintended purposes: if they
     do beef up enforcement, border patrols and all that, to a
     great extent, as stated, then, naturally, resources would be
     diverted from the parts of the INS that deal with legal

     It is already extremely difficult for somebody dealing with
     the INS to even get a person at the other end of the phone.
     If you want an immigration form, you have to wait for weeks,
     or months. And this is where our computer program comes into
     the picture. Now, if they have to divert additional
     resources, it would be even more difficult.

Edwards: You also have a web site. Is that right?

Coutsoukis: Yes, "immigration-usa.com". The site offers
     immigration information from government sources and it is a
     free site and we get, of course, a "gazillion" inquiries
     from around the world. We do not offer legal advice, but we
     do tell them where they can get additional information and
     so on.

     That site, of course, has a second purpose, the main purpose
     of promoting our computer software.

Edwards: How many visitors do you estimate visit that web site?

Coutsoukis: My estimate is four to five thousand visitors per
     day. One of the main reasons is that it is so difficult to
     obtain information from the Immigration Service, or to deal
     with them in general. They are the most Byzantine, difficult
     bureaucracy in the United States. They are many many years
     behind, say, the IRS, in terms of the technology they use
     and in terms of the means of public contact.

Edwards: In your experience, as an immigrant, what do you think
     immigrants provide to the United States?

Coutsoukis: I think that, when people think of immigration, they
     need to consider not only the fact that this country was,
     is, a country of immigrants, ultimately, but also that this
     country is not in such a good shape, socially. There are
     serious social issues here, crime, teenage pregnancies, you
     know, all these other things and the tendency is to think
     that, oh, it's everywhere, drugs, etc., so, we are doing OK.
     But that is not the case. If you were to compare social
     statistics between, say, Greece and the United States, it is
     like day and night. What people need to understand is that,
     whereas sociologists in the United States say that this
     country is headed for chaos and that there is no solution in
     sight, because of the way people are here, they may consider
     the possibility that there are people elsewhere, who, if
     they were allowed to come in in large numbers, might help
     change that.

Edwards: Photius Coutsoukis is the president and owner of
     Information Technology Associates in Medford. I am Lucy
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