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Congress Needs to Stop Flow of STEM Jobs out of the Country, but not at the Expense of Diversity, say SPIE Leaders
Date:1/8/2013

(D-California) would add visas for high-tech workers without decreasing those allocated in the diversity program.

"STEM-educated graduates are vital for innovation in both the private and public sector; they will build the future of this country." Lieberman said. "Helping these highly educated, highly motivated people achieve permanent legal status via an expedited and straightforward process will allow the U.S. to capitalize on the investment it has already made in them. Their contributions to society will create new jobs, and even whole new industries, improving our lives and expanding the economy."

"Many of the top schools in optics and photonics are in the United States, and top students from around the world compete to study here," SPIE Immediate Past President Eustace Dereniak, a professor in the College of Optics at the University of Arizona. Each June, approximately 17,000 masters and doctoral students graduate from U.S. universities and return to their home countries, denying the United States access to their innovative, job-creating potential, he said.

Looking at the numbers, Lieberman noted that:

  • More than 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, including companies such as Intel, eBay, Yahoo!, and Google.
  • Immigrant-founded start-up companies created 450,000 jobs in less than a decade, and collectively they have generated as much as $52 billion in sales in a single year.
  • U.S. Patent Office data shows that 41% of the patents filed by the U.S. government had foreign-born inventors or co-inventors. Foreign-born inventors are behind 72% of Qualcomm's patents, 65% of Merck's, and 64% of General Electric's.

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