College and university presidents call on government to act on immigrant reform
BY STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 3/18/2013, 1:06 p.m.
Some college and university presidents want the federal government to act now on immigration reform.
In an open letter to over 1,200 university and college presidents across the country, the presidents of Cornell University, Arizona State University and Miami Dade College are asking that their brethren join them in pushing for "smart" immigration policies that would help them attract the world's best students.
David Skorton of Cornell University Michael Crow of Arizona State University and Eduardo Padron of Miami Dade College announced that on April 19, they will all host events on their campuses to highlight the role that immigration plays in driving innovation and creating American jobs. They believe that their collective power could influence elected officials in Washington, D.C., to act. Skorton, Crow and Padron are currently working with the Partnership for a New American Economy and the National Immigration Forum.
"Many of us have lost sight of the important contributions immigrants have made-and are making-to our culture and our economy. Their continued contributions are critical to our country's success," said Skorton.
"For millions of young people in our country, the opportunity to gain a college education depends on immigration reform. Given the chance, those students will be contributors to vital communities and an American workforce that leads through innovation," added Padron.
In the letter, the three presidents emphasized that America tends to train the best and the brightest foreign-born students in the best institutions only to see them go back overseas post-graduation and compete against America in the marketplace. According to the letter, a major reason for that taking place is due to America's current immigration policy, which doesn't provide an opportunity for them to stay. The letter also notes that children who immigrated to America at a young age aren't able to attend college because they're undocumented.
Skorton, Crow and Padron's letter also points to visa reform for students in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as one of the policies they're a fan of. According to Partnership's statistics, by 2018, there will be more than 220,000 advanced-degree STEM jobs that won't be filled even if every single American STEM grad found a job. In 2011, 76 percent of the top 10 patent-producing universities (e.g., MIT, Caltech, Stanford) had an immigrant inventor. Incentivizing DREAMers to pursue college degrees and allowing them to work here legally will add 1.4 million jobs and generate $329 billion in economic activity over the next 20 years.
Partnership for a New American Economy Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed pleased that more people in academia are getting behind immigration reform.
"For years we've been training the best and brightest foreign-born students in our leading universities only to have our antiquated immigration laws send them packing after graduation," said Bloomberg in a statement. "I thank these college and university presidents for joining the growing list of higher education leaders who are urging Congress to fix our broken immigration system-and fix it this year."
Because there's a heavy focus on immigration pointing toward the United States-Mexico border and the state of Arizona in particular, Crow holds this issue close to him. He knows that immigration reform would help ease some tension in his school's state.
"As one of the largest U.S. public research universities and one dedicated to meaningful global engagement, ASU is 'home' to students and alumni from more than 125 foreign countries," said Crow. "We have a critical responsibility as an education and discovery leader, economic driver and workforce provider to support change that allows this country to retain the brilliant minds we serve, thereby strengthening American competitiveness and quality of life," said Crow.