In 2008, Microsoft founder Bill Gates stated that the United States has a “[c]ritical shortfall of skilled scientists and engineers who can develop new breakthrough technologies.” He stressed, “Without people who have the skills necessary to drive the next wave of technology innovation, it will be impossible for the United States to retain its global innovation leadership.”
Regardless of the changes in the economy and political views toward immigration, statistics demonstrate a clear relationship between innovation and immigration. Over 50% of engineers and 45% of mathematicians, computer scientists, life scientists and physicists holding Ph.D.s currently working in the United States are foreign born. In addition, 29% of engineers, 37% of math and computer scientists and 25% of physicists holding Master’s degrees are foreign born. Approximately 25% of international patents filed in the United States in 2006 were submitted by immigrants.
The United States has long been the desired destination of immigrants worldwide. In recent years, there has been a major drop in levels of immigrants in “high IQ” positions. As the country seeks to regain its position as a global leader, it is essential to embrace those who can contribute to our intellectual capabilities. By creating a simpler and more accessible path to immigration, we can again attract the world’s talent, which will only increase our global competitiveness.
Some may argue that America was built on the backs of immigrants. To my mind, however,the best solution to our economic problems rests not on the backs of immigrants, but in the power of their minds.