A bipartisan coalition of business leaders including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch is joining forces with college and university presidents to push for immigration reform that will allow high skilled immigrants to stay in the United States.
The group, a Partnership for a New American Economy released an open letter to more than 1,200 university and college presidents across the country, from the the presidents of Cornell University, Arizona State University, and Miami Dade College. The letter calls on higher education leaders to support visa reform for students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as part of the ongoing effort in Washington to update America’s immigration laws.
“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. 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,” said Partnership for a New American Economy Co-Chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
According to the Partnership, by 2018, the U.S. will have an estimated 779,000 jobs that require advanced STEM degrees but only an estimated 555,200 advanced-degree STEM holders. This would mean that there is a shortage of more than 220,000 workers for these highly skilled positions. HB-1 visas are usually given to immigrants who work in these fields. However requests for visas have far exceeded the quota in recent years, forcing many skilled immigrant who have been trained at American institutions of higher learning to return to their home countries.
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation with senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Kloubuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) that would dramatically increase the number of visa available for immigrants working in science and technology.
“It’s really important we have more H-1B visas if we want to keep our place in the world as an innovative, high-tech area,” said Senator Shaheen in a recent interview with New Hampshire Business Review. “We’ve got to have these highly skilled people to do the jobs that need to be done.”
New Hampshire’s junior Senator, Kelly Ayotte, is part of a group of Republican Senators that has been invited to a dinner tonight with President Obama at a hotel near the White House. According to CNN, one of the major issues that the president intends to discuss with Senator Ayotte and her collegues is the progress of the bipartisan immigration reform talks in congress.