How does it feel to know that your government is betting on foreign students to rescue America from decline? Homeland Security is helping to make sure that your college-bound children compete with foreign students judged to be the “best and brightest.” Why do we protect American goods from foreign competition, but actively raise the stakes against our young people when it comes to education and jobs?
Last year Homeland Security brought us Study in the States to encourage foreign students to come to the U.S. to shore up American competitiveness (see: Study in the States Disregards America’s Potential). The Obama administration has been pushing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines for its own purposes with an aggressive plan that includes training 100,000 new STEM teachers.
Homeland Security has announced that it is adding to the list of STEM degree programs entitling foreign students to stay in the country for up to 29 months after graduation. DHS’s inability to keep track of visa overstays has already given us 4-5.5 million illegal immigrants.¹ The federal contribution to illegal immigration aside, are Janet Napolitano and the president unable to grasp the connection between American competitiveness and protecting our intellectual property? The president talks about leveling the playing field for American businesses so they can compete in overseas markets. How about leveling the field for American students instead of looking for talent elsewhere?
The White House policy on foreign students is a haphazard, contradictory mess. On one hand, Americans are warned that our students will be unable to compete because they are falling behind in STEM fields:
Students need to be able to solve problems, apply appropriate technologies, and design solutions – skills honed by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. We have seen other nations eclipse ours in preparing their children in these critical fields.²
Then we are told that the solution is to import the same top foreign students who are outpacing us so they can learn from our best schools, stick around for on-the-job training, then go home. Since it makes no sense to educate foreign students, train them, then send then away with our secrets, is this part of the push for immigration reform, perhaps another angle to resurrect the DREAM Act? A Homeland Security press release sounds suspicious:
As a part of comprehensive immigration reform, the President supports legislative measures that would attract and retain immigrants who create jobs and boost competitiveness here in the U.S., including creating a “Startup Visa,” strengthening the H-1B program, and “stapling” green cards to the diplomas of certain foreign-born graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.³
How long will it take for “certain foreign-born graduates” to become “certain illegal immigrants looking for a better life”?
Here is an idea for our bright bulbs in Washington. Instead of telling us that American students are not measuring up, bringing in foreign students to compete with them, and eventually excusing illegal immigrant students and visa overstays who are already here, how about making a few bucks from the foreign students we are so eager to train? Other countries zealously ensure their competitiveness by protecting their job markets. We should impose a value added tax on the tuition and earnings of foreign students who come to the U.S., or impose a tariff on talent, depending on the STEM field and its value to our economy. We could even charge a deposit on students paid by their country of origin, nonrefundable in the event they fail to go through the proper immigration channels or decide to return home with our intellectual property. Is our immigration system too slow and cumbersome to process applications from these gifted foreigners? Fix it. Administrative reform and amnesty are two different things.
If STEM disciplines are so important, why are we making it easy for foreign citizens to compete with Americans, and to take our STEM secrets? Our government is smart enough to protect American manufacturers from foreign imports. We already know that jobs are hard to come by. If American students really are falling behind and endangering American competitiveness – and coming from the White House, this is a big if – then we need to protect our greatest asset, not exploit it because of political agenda.