Cornell President David Skorton is one of more than 150 university presidents and chancellors from all 50 states who has signed a letter to President Barack Obama and all members of Congress supporting visa reform to grant green cards to international students with advanced degrees in technical fields.
University presidents and chancellors with a combined student body of more than 4 million students and a total endowment of over $240 billion support visa reform.
The Sept. 13 letter urged members of both parties to find a bipartisan solution to visa reform that would provide green cards for foreign-born students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
The signatories included leading research universities, such as Stanford University and Harvard University; leading technical universities such as California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and the leaders of more than a dozen state systems of higher education, including the University of California, University of Illinois and University of Wisconsin systems.
The letter calls this issue "a critical threat to America's preeminence as a global center of innovation and prosperity" and cites a new report, "The 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. The presidents warn "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 faster than 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.
The Partnership for a New American Economy is a bipartisan group of mayors and business leaders who seek to raise awareness of the economic benefits of immigration reform.