The presidents of Carnegie Mellon University and West Virginia University were among 165 academic leaders from around the country to sign a letter to President Obama and Congress supporting visa reform to grant green cards to foreign students with advanced degrees in technical fields.
The letter calls this issue “a critical threat to America’s preeminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity” citing a new report, “Patent Pending” that found that in 2011, foreign-born inventors were contributors on 76 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the United States.
"New research shows that in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited contributors on more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the United States – irrefutable proof of the important role immigrants play in American innovation," the letter states. "These inventions lead to new companies and new jobs for American workers, and are an enormous boon to our economy."
The signatories included universities large and small, and from all 50 states, including leading research universities, such as Stanford University, Harvard University, and Cornell University; leading technical universities such as California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the leaders of over a dozen state systems of higher education, including University of California System, University of Illinois System and University of Wisconsin System. The schools represent a combined student body of over 4 million students and a total endowment of over $240 billion. A copy of the letter is available here.
The presidents warned “there is a growing skill gap across America’s industries. One quarter of U.S. science and engineering firms already report difficulty hiring, and the problem will only worsen.”
Over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs and in the coming years, STEM jobs are projected to grow roughly twice as fast as non-STEM jobs.
The letter was organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy as part of the coalition’s campaign to make STEM immigration reform a priority by repeatedly producing evidence of the value of STEM immigration reform and of broad bipartisan support from Americans.
Partnership research has found that:
- Foreign STEM graduates create American jobs: Every foreign graduate with an advanced degree from a U.S. university who stays and works in a STEM field creates on average 2.62 jobs for American workers.
- Foreign STEM grads drive U.S. innovation: 76% of patents from the top 10 patent-producing US universities (including MIT, Stanford, University of Illinois system, University of Texas System, etc.) in 2011 had a foreign born inventor.
· The U.S. is facing a shortage of STEM workers: By 2018, there will be more than 230,000 advanced degree STEM jobs that will not be filled even if every single new American STEM grad finds a job.
- There is broad support for STEM visa reform among Democratic, Independent, and Republican voters: 76% of all voters support STEM visa reform, including 87% of D’s, 72% of R’s, 65% of I’s, 68% of Tea Party supporters, 90% of Hispanic voters, and 90% of voters under 35.
- The U.S. is losing out to countries that use immigration laws to recruit STEM workers: Canada offers visas to STEM workers even before they’ve earned their degrees and targets its recruitment efforts directly at foreign STEM workers in the US who are frustrated by obstacles to staying. UK and Australia offer ways for STEM grads to stay after graduation so they can find employment.
- More than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. These include many of America’s greatest brands – Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric and McDonald’s just to name a few– and the newest leading companies are also more likely to have an immigrant founder.
About the Partnership for a New American Economy
The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 450 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today.
The Partnership’s members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech, and Media to Manufacturing. Partnership members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse, and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations. Learn more at www.renewoureconomy.org.