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Indians Abroad - Immigrants' children are rising intellectual superstars in US

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Immigrants' children are rising intellectual superstars in US

Indo-Asian News Service
Washington, July 20

An astounding 60 per cent of the top science students in the US and 65 per cent of the top math students are children of immigrants mainly from India and China, says a new study.

The study, "The Multiplier Effect," released by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), an Arlington, Virginia-based public policy group, says foreign-born professionals and students are contributing more to the US than previously thought -- their children are rising intellectual superstars and without them the nation's technological and scientific standing is at risk.

To make its point, the study says that foreign-born high school students make up 50 per cent of the 2004 US Math Olympiad's top scorers, 38 per cent of the US Physics Team and 25 per cent of the Intel Science Talent Search finalists -- the United States' most prestigious awards for young scientists and mathematicians.

According to the study, the Intel Science Talent Search finalists showed a diverse mix of foreign-born parents, including seven from India, five from China, three from Korea two each from Vietnam, Israel, Tureky and South Korea. The foreign born parents of the 2004 US Math Olympiad's top scorers were divided among South Korea (four) China (four) Russia (three) and India (two).

"These findings provide evidence that maintaining an open policy toward skilled professionals, international students, and legal immigration is vital to America's technological and scientific standing in the world," said Stuart Anderson, Executive Director of NFAP and author of the report while releasing it at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC July 19.

"If opponents of immigration had succeeded over the past 20 years, two-thirds of the most outstanding future American scientists and mathematicians would not be here today because US policy would have barred their parents from entering the United States, Anderson said.

"Efforts to preserve US strength in science and technology should start by recognizing the key role that immigrants and their children play in the nation's leadership in these fields. As the research demonstrates, the contributions made by the children of immigrants are beyond that ever considered by policy makers," Anderson said.

Anderson said due to denials of high-skilled employment visa applications which doubled in recent years, fewer international students are seeking admission into US universities. For the fall 2004 semester there is a 76 per cent decline in applications from Chinese students and 58 per cent from Indian students, according to a survey of 113 graduate schools by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Andersen said that while much recent media attention has been focused on high-skilled foreign-born professionals as a source of competition for native-born computer programmers and systems analysts, little attention has been paid to the enormous contributions -- both individually and collectively -- foreign-born individuals have played in US world leadership in science and technology.

The study also pointed out that today more than 50 per cent of the engineers with PhDs working in the United States are foreign-born, according to the National Science Foundation. In addition, 45 percent of math and computer scientists with PhDs as well as life scientists and physicists are foreign- born.

"These data help illuminate the significant role immigrant scientists and engineers play in the US." Advocating an open immigration policy Anderson said "When immigrants are allowed to come to the US legally and stay, the nation also in many cases gains the future skills of outstanding children who become US citizens.

"The question is whether the US will maintain a student and immigration system that is open enough to integrate that talent into US society -- or will policy makers push or keep that talent out of the United States," he asked.

The study also strongly favours raising the cap for H-1B visas as a key source of maintaining and expanding the United States intellectual base in science, mathematics and technology.

"Closing the door to immigrants, students and skilled professionals hurts the Untied States today -- and for a generation yet to come," the study said.


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