On Monday, a group of eight senators—four Republicans and four Democrats—unveiled a framework for an immigration-reform plan. The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 would, among other things, increase the number of visas available for foreign-born workers and students graduating with advanced degrees. Additionally, a portion of the fees spent to obtain these visas would be set aside in an account to be used specifically for training science, technology, engineering and math education programs.
President Obama also has said he plans to make immigration reform a priority of his second term. At a recent speech in Las Vegas, the president unveiled many of his own reforms, including a desire to expand business opportunities for immigrants in the U.S. “If you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here,” said Obama. “Because if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses and American jobs. You’ll help us grow our economy.”
The ASBMB enthusiastically supports the Immigration Innovation Act for the proposed changes that would increase the number of foreign-born scientists allowed to study and work in the U.S. as well as the significant STEM education reforms. The American research enterprise is at its best when the best and brightest in every field stay in the U.S. as opposed to returning to their home countries to compete against us. As ASBMB President Jeremy Berg said, “Efforts to reform immigration like the Immigration Innovation Act are essential to keeping America a global leader for innovation, which benefits the U.S. through ensuring a strong, healthy economy and a strong, healthy populace.”
ASBMB will continue to track the debate over immigration reform, especially with regard to how it may affect scientists, so stay tuned to the Policy Blotter for updates!