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Green Cards For Grad Students

Immigrants Give Us Your Scientists And Engineers Yearning To Breathe Free

Hartford Courant Editorial

July 03, 2011

Critics of the state's new Dream Act complain that it's cruel to give a tuition break to undocumented aliens if they have no hope of getting a job out of college.

This country takes that questionable argument to the extreme and throws out doctors, engineers, scientists and MBAs trained at great expense at U.S. universities, who then go home and compete against us.

This is a senseless waste; these graduates should be enriching this nation with their brainpower.

The United States can no longer compete in making shirts and other low-skill jobs, but it does still maintain the edge in higher education. With the best universities in the world, this nation attracts the best international talent.

That's why Yale University President Richard Levin has long advocated stapling a green card to every graduate diploma. The U.S. needs to take more steps to keep its job-creating immigrant talent in this country.

Yes, immigrants create jobs. More than half of all technology and engineering companies started in Silicon Valley between 1995 and 2005 had an immigrant founder, one study found.

These days, though, many highly trained immigrants are preferring to head home as living standards and business incentives improve in their countries and the U.S. economy limps along. We can't afford such a brain drain in this global economic race.

Connecticut opened its arms to immigrants this year with legislation allowing illegal aliens who've graduated from Connecticut high schools after four years of residency to pay in-state tuition. That's only fair: Undocumented residents should get the same deal that other residents get. (Blue-state neighbors Massachusetts and Rhode Island are balking at similar legislation.)

And Connecticut, like the rest of the nation, attracts more college-educated immigrants than those without a high school degree. In the Hartford metropolitan area, there are 138 high-skilled immigrants for ever 100 low-skilled immigrants, according to Washington think tank Brookings.

The next step should be clearing the citizenship path for the world's best and brightest. "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," the famous Statue of Liberty poem says. But we're also happy to take the foreign scientists and engineers trained in this land of opportunity.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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