Putting Education Reform To The Test

Florida Universities Join Effort To Ease Visa Requirements For STEM Grads

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images News

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leading an effort to make it easier for foreign graduates of U.S. universities to get a work visa.

Editors note: This post was written by WLRN reporter Luc Cohen.

The presidents of more than 100 U.S. research universities signed a letter to President Obama and Congressional leaders urging them to make it easier for international students to get jobs in the country after they graduate.

The letter argues that highly skilled workers in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are in high demand in the U.S. work force and necessary for global economic competitiveness.

The university presidents call on Congress to provide students who graduate from American universities with advanced STEM degrees with a “clear path to a green card.”

“After we have trained and educated these future job creators, our antiquated immigration laws turn them away to work for our competitors in other countries,” the letter reads.

The presidents of the University of Miami, Florida State University, the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida all signed the letter.

University of Miami president Donna Shalala said that although UM’s engineering graduate school is not as large as those of the other signatories, she believes keeping these graduates in the U.S. will benefit the economy.

And it can benefit UM too, she said.

She says she would like to be able to recruit foreign nationals with doctorates to teach at UM.

“We believe that we’re letting go some highly skilled workers, trained at American universities, and the competing economies around the world are going to grab them,” Shalala said.

No other Florida schools signed the letter, nor did State University System of Florida Chancellor Frank Brogan.

“I don’t know that [Brogan] was invited to [sign it] or provided a copy of the letter,” Florida Board of Governors spokesman Kelly Layman said in an email.

Leaders of university systems in states like California, Missouri, New York and Oregon all signed the letter.

Madeline Baro is assistant director of media relations at Florida International University.

She says FIU president Mark Rosenberg supports the campaign and he “is committed to signing it.”

The campaign is a project of an organization called the Partnership for a New American Economy, which was started by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and communications giant Rupert Murdoch to advocate for immigration reform.

According to Bloomberg’s chief policy analyst John Feinblatt, the letter began with ten participating institutions. The leaders of these schools then invited their colleagues at other universities to sign.

Feinblatt said the list of signatories is by no means exclusive, but the group did not actively try to recruit presidents to sign either.

Foreign engineers and scientists who start businesses and receive patents in the U.S. after graduating from an American institution help create jobs and boost the economy, he said.

“This country just has to start looking at immigration as an economic issue,” Feinblatt said. “Immigration policy should be central to economic policy.

Should the U.S. ease work visa requirements on international students who graduate from an American university? Do you know someone who has tried to obtain a visa?


  • DrBillLemoine

    This is a good proposal, not just for STEM grads. It will never pass muster among the right wing obstructionists who loathe competition for ANY jobs by foreigners or domestic minorities–women, latinos, college graduates everywhere. Good luck!

    • ficknfecker

      DrBill, That’s what I was going to post! The right wing makes everything a complete mess.. when it comes to obstruction.

      On another note: I wanted to sponsor a young man from Peru.  His family moved there from China, he spoke Spanish (his first language) Mandarin & English.  Just perfect for South Florida and emerging markets of China.  They sent this young man back with his masters degree.  Why to compete with US?    

      • DrBillLemoine

         There’s nothing like a little competition to get the undereducated, underemployed right wing stimulated to oppose you than propose something like this. I have 2 Chinese friends here getting or having graduate degrees and another in China who have skills we can use and who love this country. One is here now, one is returning on a new visa next month and the third wants to attend Harvard for an MBA. I’ve sponsored or encouraged all of them for visas and internships or degrees. In my case I can use their financial and international relations skills for my business. Two masters and a possible PHD upcoming. Bring them here if they want and have such skills any day.

  • kennyalligood

    This is a horrible idea! With unemployment in this country near depression numbers how could anyone even consider giving employment to others? Contrary to what Dr Bill says it is not xenophobia it is giving jobs and opportunities to unemployed, experienced and educated Americans. It would warm my heart if folks inn this country would be more concerned about America and her citizens than the rest of the world. But if you silk feel that foreigners are more deserving than Americans maybe you should look at how much the H1B vida numbers have been skyrocketing over the past few years. Why create another obstacle for Americans??

    • ficknfecker

      DrBill I rest my case when it comes to this Fair & Balanced Fox News watcher.  Meanwhile lets allow Cubans come over in rafts and give Russian and Jewish folk get unlimited access.  

      • kennyalligood

        oh you misunderstand me completely DrBill…. I oppose all immigration that is currently taking much needed jobs and opportunities away from needy, deserving Americans … as for the Cubans … wet foot dry foot was one of the worst pieces of legislation to come out of this congress … for the jews … geez i would love to have them completely removed from this country …  they are the number one drain on resources from political, to military to financial — so you are preaching to the choir there … but to shorten this rant … no matter where a person hails from Americans should be first in everything … opportunity, education ect. so before slinging insulting slurs at me maybe you should understand my point … no immigration (legal or otherwise) because America’s citizens need to be first in line …

        that being said it appears that you are more in favor of asian immigration than from anywhere else in the world … they are no different because you and others are putting them in front of Americans. it doesn’t matter what news channel you favor or political ideology you preach … either America and her citizens are first or you are no better than the cubans, mexicans, russians , ect vying to enter however they can and take food off the tables of law abiding citizens.

        maybe you will counter with the old and tired rebuttal of “they are taking jobs Americans won’t do” but the answer to that is depressed wages are keeping Americans from taking those jobs. maybe you are saying that we should have open borders … but that would go completely against sovereignty and this nation oif laws that everyone speaks of. whatever your rebuttal my opinion is sure… America & her citizens first always!

        is that what they say on MSNBC or CNN? sorry couldn’t resist that jab….

      • DrBillLemoine

         Sorry to disappoint, but Cubans concentrated in South Florida in Miami Dade County prefer authoritarian government and drugs–fond memories of Fulgencio Batista who predated Castro, I guess. It spoils FL elections nationally and statewise installing (as now) a crook and fostering voter suppression, like Cuba.  Nobody’s talking about unlimited access, only meritorious exemptions and fast-tracking.

    • DrBillLemoine

       Have you forgotten already presidential candidate on the right Rick Santorum calling college educated folks ‘snobs’. So let the right wing base continue to bellyache and I’ll sponsor and hire those who want advanced degrees–folks who won’t be taking jobs away from your Americans–and put them to work for this country in high skilled jobs your folks don’t want or can’t qualify for. The obstacle is effort, energy, education and economic participation which your yahoos don’t want to study for. Besides these foreigners take high paying jobs and pay in turn lots of taxes your ‘citizens’ don’t.

      • kennyalligood

        you seem to be stuck on the perception that i am — as you say — a right wing fair and balanced fox news watching individual … let me at the very least straighten that out for you … between the R’s & the D’s neither is better than the other. both have done everything in their power at the behest of zionists ideals and liberal agendas to destroy this nation. i am more a libertarian than anything … but a libertarian that believes as long as we have laws they must be obeyed and enforced without prejudice.

        that being said i am concerned with your statement of “folks who won’t be taking jobs away from your Americans” it appears that you have already separated yourself from this nation and very well could be a visa holder yourself … but as for the taxes you are correct … with nearly half of the population living off the gov dole that is a huge problem … however that can be traced back to the LBJ days and his grand society agenda … buying votes with gov dollars (actually we could really go all the way back to FDR) but do you really thin bringing in foreigners to take these jobs — even the menial ones — is an effective way to resolve that issue and restore personal responsibility to us citizens? i say us not because i belong to the gov dole crowd but because i am an American and it isn’t me against the rest of this nation … it is me saying that we need to put the citizens of this nation ahead of everyone and everything else.

        strangely bill clinton earned some respect from me for his attempt to control welfare in this nation but you see how that lasted …. circling back to my point about the R’s & the D’s. immigration is a good thing with infusion of new ideas and energies but at what point do you believe that completely giving up on the population to import a workforce is good for the country as a whole?

        besides… from what you have stated you are repulsed by immigrants from cuba and other places how do you reconcile allowing immigrants from asia? i have to say that there a quite a few hard working illegals in this country — not that i am supporting them in any way — but continuing to import or allow to be imported foreigners gives no incentive and drive to the indigenous population … and so many claim that they pay taxes too. i really don’t see how you can draw a line where one is better than the other when they are all either illegal or taking away from the country as a whole ….

        • DrBillLemoine

          Hard to know where to start with your rambler. Most important–teapublicans have worked tirelessly and irresponsibly to bring down a president who promotes expanded healthcare for millions, facilitates affordable college loans, saves social security and medicare for retirees, pays men and women equally, kills the bad guys abroad, rolls back bank fees, reins in risk taking bankers, avoids depression. . .and more. Not teapublicans who oppose such progress at every turn that doesn’t favor robber barons, inside traders, shoveling money to the already rich, avoiding/evading taxes, offshoring good American jobs, probing women’s vaginas, lowering the minimum wage, deporting all immigrants, starting unnecessary wars, etc. You’re not weighing assets and liabilities very well as Clinton and Obama do.
           I have Cuban and other alien friends who work harder than the tea party members ever did; so they get loud and rude, crude and obnoxious and WASPS tremble in fear without any right wing leader to put them back in their bunkers, underground economy, supremacist camps and bigoted neighborhoods. It’s sad because they are fast becoming a tiny minority in a growing, diverse population that wants to get along and work hard. We must never adopt the strategy of becoming the opposition to beat them. In this vast democracy all should avoid becoming the dictators and authoritarians, the tyrants and bullies we left back in the ‘old country’. Pick a progressive side and support it as I have. If you’re not working for a better tomorrow in a major party, you’re not going to be effective; the country is not going to enter the 21st century.

          • kennyalligood

            speaking of rant … wow Dr Bill … but if you had of taken a bit more time in reading instead of looking through your name calling manual from the left then you would have seen that i associate myself with libertarians … no the tea party. but beyond that i will never take part in a party that believes taking money from those that are successful — or at the very least gainfully employed — and giving it to the ones that would rather have it all handed to them for free. with the Dr in front of your name i figured you for a smart fella but it appears that did not major in economics … when nearly half of the population is living of the remainder there is no incentive to the worker bees to continue to contribute … get the picture? and then where will all of your free healthcare and welfare programs and entitlements be … same place as your incomprehensible liberal ideologies … bankrupt.

  • Niniane

    We already have a horrendous problem with illegal aliens coming to take our menial jobs, and now these fools want to give international students amnesty to take more skilled jobs. Besides the STEM students, there was a story on CNS about illegal aliens given the right to learn to fly commercial airliners at a school owned by an illegal alien who was also a qualified pilot.

    We need to make sure Americans are fully employed before we start extending this kind of crap to foreigners. Of course, with Obama in charge, everyone can trump Americans and the few taxpayers left will make sure they get every comfort they ever dreamed of.

  • Ron Mowrey

    These people should be defunded of any public monetary support.  With the unemployment in this country we do not need more immigrants to compete for jobs….let alone our inability to truly know their political motivations for coming to the US.

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »