Friday, November 26, 2004


Good article on how the recent immigrant crack-down and foreign-visa crisis is turning away future innovation, which drives most of our economy.

Rejecting the Next Bill Gates
The dirty secret about our scientific edge is that it's largely produced by foreigners and immigrants. Americans don't do science

By Fareed Zakaria

Nov. 29 issue - As Condoleezza Rice enters the State Department, she will face a number of pressing foreign-policy problems that she cannot solve. This will not be for lack of effort or intelligence on her part. It's just that many foreign-policy crises involve the interests and activities of countries across the globe, and changing these takes time. And even then, whether it's Iran, North Korea or Darfur, there is no quick fix that Washington can impose. But there is a growing danger for the United States that needs urgent attention, can be solved and is almost entirely within Rice's power to handle. It's the foreign-visa crisis. Left unattended, it is going to have deep and lasting effects on American security and competitiveness.

The facts are plain. U.S. visa procedures have become far too cumbersome, and bureaucrats are turning down far more applications than ever before. One crucial result is the dramatic decline of foreign students in the U.S.—the first shift downward in 30 years. Three new reports document the magnitude of this fall. Undergraduate enrollment from China dropped 20 percent this year; from India, 9 percent; from Japan, 14 percent. The declines are even worse in graduate schools: applications from China have dropped 45 percent; from India, 28 percent.

Some Americans might say, "Good riddance, it's their loss." Actually the greater loss is ours. American universities benefit from having the best students from across the globe. But the single most deadly effect of this trend is the erosion of American capacity in science and technology. The U.S. economy has powered ahead in large part because of the amazing productivity of America's science and technology. Yet that research is now done largely by foreign students. The National Science Board (NSB) documented this reality last year, finding that 38 percent of doctorate holders in America's science and engineering work force are foreign-born. Foreigners make up more than half the students enrolled in science and engineering programs. The dirty little secret about America's scientific edge is that it's largely produced by foreigners and immigrants. (full article)

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