The presidents of Cornell University, Arizona State University, and Miami Dade College have sent a letter to more than 1,200 of their colleagues, urging them to join an effort to reform immigration laws and writing that current policies frustrate colleges’ ability to educate and to innovate. Particularly in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—American colleges “train many of the brightest minds of the world,” they write, “only to have those students sent abroad to compete against us because our immigration laws do not provide a viable path for them to stay.”
In their letter, the three leaders—David J. Skorton of Cornell, Michael M. Crow of Arizona State, and Eduardo J. Padrόn of Miami Dade—also call attention to the plight of foreign-born students who “arrived in our country as children but are prevented from attending college because of their undocumented status.” By denying such young people access to higher education, they write, “we deny our country the talent we very much need.”
President Obama and a bipartisan group of senators have raised similar concerns in other proposals for immigration reform put forward this year.
The three college chiefs said they would hold events on their campuses next month to focus on immigration issues. They invited fellow presidents to also hold events on the same day, in the hope that they might sway elected officials “by speaking with one coordinated voice.”
The presidents’ effort is being coordinated by the the Partnership for a New American Economy and the National Immigration forum, two groups that support immigration reforms.