Don't Choke Off the Flow of Immigrants

The influx of smart, ambitious foreigners is vital to America's scientific and economic power. Even the world could suffer if it's overly restricted

By Jimmy Yang

America is renowned for its boundless opportunities. Its attractions include an environment that fosters scientific and technological research, innovation, and ingenuity. America's innumerable prospects are supported by an education system that encourages individuals to explore, in their own creative and personal ways, the labyrinth of science and technology.

These attributes exert a powerful magnetic pull on ambitious, talented, and well-educated people in other countries. Accordingly, the U.S. has become an ever-changing amalgam of numerous cultures and ideas. This concentrated combination of different mindsets plus an environment of unmatched economic opportunity is the true crucible of America. The mixture of these exceptional forces produces new and inventive hybrid concepts. As a result, the country has made important progress and advancements in almost all fields of science and technology.

As the son of immigrants from Taiwan, I'm always keenly aware of the numerous advantages I enjoy due to America's educational and economic possibilities. Understandably, immigration policy has become more restrictive in light of recent events. Vulnerabilities in policies and weaknesses in screening processes have been exposed, which have led to the enactment of increased regulations and paperwork.


  However, these policies, though establishing a greater sense of national security, also have adverse consequences. New requirements and documentation have led to augmented delays that may be unduly slowing immigration. In fact, students and scientists alike from foreign countries have voiced concerns over the difficulties of obtaining U.S. visas in order to attend meetings or to participate in collaborative research.

I hope that the people of America are aware of the importance of continuing to introduce new ideas through immigration. America's marketplace of ideas can only reach its full potential through the continual influx of new immigrants who contribute new talents and perspectives. This rich diversity of ideas is a primary catalyst of new insights and knowledge, and hampering that chemistry with a highly restrictive immigration policy will ultimately hurt American science and innovation.

In some cases, new knowledge that would otherwise have emerged in the U.S. will strengthen overseas competition instead. America's competitive edge would suffer, but the world would still gain new intellectual advances.

The worst possible result of excessively restrictive immigration, however, could be the complete strangulation of some new ideas -- concepts that could have matured only in America's unique environment. In these cases, the entire world would suffer incalculable losses. That's why a balanced immigration policy is critically important for both the American people and humankind as a whole.

Yang was a finalist in the 2005 Intel Science Talent Search

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