Ohio University Presidents Urge Immigration Reform

Monday, April 1, 2013

Eight Ohio college presidents, including Ohio State's E. Gordon Gee, have so-signed a letter to two U.S. Senators from the state supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

In the letter to Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, the presidents say the current system is outdated and hinders many of the state's top foreign-born graduates from contributing to the American economy because they can't get the proper visa to stay.

During their studies, many of these students become leaders in high-skills areas such as science, technology, engineering and math, also called the STEM fields. They become key partners in top research projects and are "the top minds in their respective fields," the presidents wrote.

Upon graduation, many want to stay in the United States. And many businesses want to hire them, but they can't, they said. "It was found that one quarter of U.S. science and engineering firms already report difficulty hiring. And the problem will only worsen: By 2018, the U.S. is projected to see a shortfall of 230,000 advanced-degree workers in the STEM fields," the presidents wrote.

As the United States turns these graduates away, other countries are welcoming them by streamlining their visa procedures for top scientists and engineers -- and they end up competing against the U.S., they said.

In addition to Gee, the letter is signed by Mary Ellen Mazey of Bowling Green State University; Barbara R. Snyder of Case Western Reserve University; David C. Hodge of Miami University; Jay A. Greshen of Northeast Ohio Medical University; Santa J. Ono of the University of Cincinnati; Daniel J. Curran of University of Dayton; and Lloyd A. Jacobs of the University of Toledo.

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