Letter to the editor

U.S. needs to prioritize recruiting, retaining top STEM talent

Wed, 04/27/2022 - 8:00pm

The race for peak innovation and technological advancements globally is on, and America’s greatest competitors like China are on a fast track to advancing their STEM sectors and innovation. To remain competitive while protecting our national security, the U.S. needs to prioritize recruiting and retaining the top STEM talent.

By giving foreign-born individuals with advanced degrees in STEM greater opportunities to continue living, working and lending their talents within the United States – rather than sending them to our competitors – we could bolster our workforce, grow innovation, and increase our global competitiveness.

Unfortunately, current policies keep many foreign-born STEM professionals from remaining in and contributing to the U.S., even if they want to. By keeping STEM professionals here, we would also be securing U.S. innovation and keeping it within our borders, supporting our national security.

The America COMPETES Act, which passed in the House earlier this year, would help fix this by establishing a direct path to permanent residency for certain educated STEM students.

A similar, but narrower, version of the legislation passed the Senate. It’s now headed to Conference Committee to develop a bill that both Chambers agree on. It’s critical that these STEM provisions remain in the final bill and that it’s sent to the president’s desk, and I encourage Senator Collins, who was a co-sponsor of the Senate legislation, to ensure that is the case in order to keep the U.S. on top.

Owen Casas lives in Camden