Security experts ask US Congress to expedite green card reforms - Hindustan Times

‘Immigration bottlenecks pushing US behind China’, Security experts write to Congress to expedite green card reforms

Dec 25, 2023 08:11 PM IST

72 security experts write to Congress to address STEM immigration to compete with China

US National Security Leaders have written a letter to the House Select Committee on China to address ‘immigration bottlenecks’ that may lead to the country falling behind China in the field of scientific advances.

US National Security leaders urge Congress to address STEM talent gap with China(AP File Photo)
US National Security leaders urge Congress to address STEM talent gap with China(AP File Photo)

‘Address STEM talent gap with China’

Warning of a widening talent gap between India and China the letter states, “we are united in calling on Congress to address the emerging gap in advanced STEM talent with China. From computing to aerospace, critical sectors of our defense-industrial base rely on attracting global STEM talent. For example, nearly two in three graduate students in the United States specializing in artificial intelligence and semiconductor-related programs were born abroad.”

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Highlighting the negative impact of green card backlog the letter further adds, “Previous legislative efforts have considered exempting those with advanced STEM degrees from green card caps to better compete with China.”

Security experts write to US Congressmen

The 70 signatories include former Secretary of Energy Steve Chu, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, former House Rep. Barbara Comstock, and retired Lt. Gen. John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, who directed the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

The concern is valid as US is forcibly dependent on talent from India an elsewhere for advancements in semiconductors, artificial intelligence and defence.

40% of the high-skilled semiconductor workers were not born in US and international students make up about two-thirds of electrical engineering and computer science graduate students, per a 2020 report from Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

82% of "companies in the defense industrial base report that it is difficult to find qualified STEM workers" and 50% of those who hold advanced STEM degrees and work in the defense industrial base were born abroad, according to Institute for Progress.

The letter elaborates how Indian STEM graduates have to wait for decades before being issued a green card and 80% of STEM master’s graduates leave the United States due to that. “Recent studies show half of advanced STEM workers in the defense-industrial base were born abroad. These reports illustrate how efforts to onshore critical supply chains may not succeed unless we also onshore the talent necessary to compete.”

“Congress will truly show they are taking the China competition seriously the day they address STEM immigration," Divyansh Kaushik, associate director for emerging technologies and national security at the Federation of American Scientists tol Axios.

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