Expanding High-Skilled STEM Immigration Is a National Security Priority

Acoalition of dozens of former national security officials including former cabinet secretaries wrote to Congress this week urging lawmakers to use the ongoing conference negotiations of competitiveness legislation to allow more foreigners with science, technology, engineering and math expertise to work in the United States.

“In today’s technology competition, the most powerful and enduring asymmetric advantage America has is its ability to attract and retain the world’s best and brightest,” the former officials wrote, “The Chinese Communist Party recognizes this; Chinese sources say that U.S. expansion of its international talent pipelines “would pose a huge challenge to China.”

As background, the House-passed COMPETES Act includes a section (Sec. 80303) exempting foreigners with doctoral STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees from current green card caps. The Senate-passed version of the legislation did not address the issue of high-skilled immigration. The signers, including former Defense Secretary William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense Richard Danzig, former Security of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and former Secretary of Energy Steve Chu, reasoned that expanding legal immigration for high-skilled workers would help maintain American economic and national security advantages in the global competition for high-tech talent. 

Click here to read the full piece in The National Interest.

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