Economics, U.S. Economy

While America dithers, rest of the world moves to snap up highly skilled immigrants

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Washington Post has a great feature on the difficulties faced by highly-skilled immigrants who want to stay in the United States and contribute to our economy.

The contraption sits in a basement lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a mishmash of hoses, wires, whirring pumps and a 12-foot-high plastic tower filled with steam and dripping water, all set on plastic milk crates.

It looks like a high school science project, but it was developed by two postdoctoral mechanical engineers at MIT. And it just might be a breakthrough that creates wealth and jobs in the United States and transforms the white-hot industry of oil and natural gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

That is, as long as the foreign-born inventors aren’t forced to leave the country.

The Post feature documents the lengths to which other countries are going in order to attract highly-skilled immigrants – including some educated at US universities.

China has given bonuses of up to $150,000 to thousands of highly skilled expatriates who have come home to work or start businesses. Chile is luring top talent with $40,000 in capital, free office space and a quick visa through its “Start-up Chile” program.

On April 1, Canada plans to launch a start-up visa program giving entrepreneurs immediate permanent residence. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told reporters last month that the program was designed, in part, to poach foreigners from the United States.

“We see the bright, young, international tech developers in the U.S. who are stuck on temporary visas as an immediate market, if you will, for this program,” Kenney said at a Jan. 25 news conference in Toronto.

Many foreign governments and companies are actively recruiting in U.S. centers of higher education from Cambridge, Mass., to Stanford, Calif., offering top graduates alternatives to the expensive, lengthy, difficult and, some say, even hostile U.S. visa system.

I have written on the need for the United States to actively encourage US-educated highly-skilled immigrants to stay in the United States, to create business, to use their talents and skills and ambitions to add to our national greatness – and to fulfill their own dreams of being productive members of American society. “The president and Congress are giving the American economy a self-inflicted wound by exporting foreign students who have earned graduate degrees from US universities and who want to stay here and work. These foreigners have dreams, too. The United States should help their dreams become reality.”

You can read my op-ed in The Atlantic on this subject here.

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