Immigration Reform and Student Visas

Harry DeMell

There are those who believe that America needs a path for students to become permanent residents and then citizens in order for America to obtain the engineers, scientists and mathematicians that America needs. In the short term they may be correct but in the long term they are wrong.

What America needs to do to correct the imbalance of engineers, scientist and mathematicians it need is to reform our scholarship system.

We have too many Americans studying in fields that will not assist us in competing globally in the future. Too many study political science, literature, anthropology, and sociology as well as other interesting but less employable subjects. Those may be honorable pursuits but America needs engineers, scientists, and mathematicians and the way to go about encouraging more Americans to study in this area is to restructure our scholarship programs to assist worthy 'American' students to study in this area. It must be remembered that the children of today's immigrants will be tomorrow's United States Citizens.

The emphasis upon gaining our future scientists from abroad is misplaced. I am not advocating restrictions upon foreign students. The fact is that there are already avenues for these students to study here and to obtain practical training and work visas. There is no need to 'reform' this area at this time other than to add H-1 visa numbers or to remove the H-1 quotas completely.

There is a need to refocus our efforts to encourage future students to study in those areas where they are most needed so that they will be able to obtain meaningful employment that will aid America in its economic competition with the world. That is not to say that we eliminate the scholarships in these other areas but it is to say that we limit them. There are too many graduates with severe student loan debts, with poor employment prospects, and underemployed, while there is a shortage of educated youth in these more important areas.

It will be difficult to restructure our scholarship system since it is a highly decentralized system. We could start with PELL grants. This might be a small but unpopular step. Often doing the correct thing is unpopular and always begins with someone taking the first step.

Those who have the financial means can study anything but government sponsored scholarships should be restructured. Hopefully private scholarship programs will also be weighted towards areas of study must important to American competitiveness.

Not every part of the visa, immigration and nationality system needs to be changed. It is more important to determine what America needs. At the present time it seems decisions are made to support the popularity of those in office. When these politicians are long gone the American public will be left with the sludge that is now being created in the name of 'immigration reform'.

About The Author

Harry DeMell is an Attorney practicing exclusively in the area of Visa, Immigration and Nationality Law since 1977.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) alone and should not be imputed to ILW.COM.