The children of immigrants who have come to the United States on H-1B visas are among the most talented and accomplished science and math students in the country, and demonstrate how crucial it is for America to ensure that its immigration policies don't deprive us of this "wonderful gift."
Those are the conclusions of a newly released study by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) titled, "The Impact of the Children of Immigrants on Scientific Achievement in America." The study found that 60 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition are the children of parents who came to the United States on H-1B visas. If you count all the finalists who are the children of immigrants, the proportion rises to 70 percent:
One surprising characteristic unites the majority of America's top high school science and math students - their parents are immigrants. While only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born, 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition were the children of immigrants, according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis. Just 12 of the 40 finalists at this year's competition of the nation's top high school science students had native-born parents. While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals.
Those are pretty stunning figures, and they help to explain the points I've been trying to make recently in writing about the importance of the Asian influence in advancing academic achievement in America. Of the 40 finalists in the Intel competition, 16 had parents from China, 10 had parents from India, one had parents from South Korea and one had parents from Iran.
The NFAP concluded, moreover, that our immigration policies must not be allowed to deprive our country of the contributions that these kids are making here:
Many immigrant parents place a heavy emphasis on education, particularly in math and science, viewing this as a path to success in America. An important implication of the study is that preventing the entry of H-1B visa holders, skilled immigrants, and family-sponsored immigrants would shut off the flow of a key segment of America's next generation of scientists and engineers - the children of immigrants - because we would not have allowed in their parents. The benefit America derives from the children of immigrants in science and math is an additional advantage the country reaps from being open to talent from around the world. Americans should take pride in our openness to individuals and their children who can succeed in the United States without regard to class or place of birth. The talents possessed by these children of immigrants are a wonderful gift to America, a gift we can all benefit from in the future so long as we can allow talented foreign nationals to come to the United States and pursue their American dreams.
With that in mind, I will take the liberty of repeating the conclusion I drew in my post, "Why the U.S. Technology Work Force Needs the Asian Influence":
Anyone who has played sports knows that you play your best game when you're matched up against your toughest opponents. It's time for us to demonstrate the fortitude to do that. It's time for us to raise our game.