can be inferred from, if not proven by, their participation in U.S. universities, industries, and national laboratories after they receive their doctorates. Foreign-born doctorate-level scientists and engineers constituted 37.3 percent of the U.S. science and engineering labor force in 2000, an increase from 23.9 percent in 1990.

Skilled immigrants may contribute at many levels—as technicians, teachers, and researchers—and in other occupations for which technical training is desirable. Also, research suggests that they generate economic gains by adding to the processes of industrial and business innovation. Such innovations tend to contribute to the future productivity gains of both citizen and immigrant workers, which results in a net increase in real wages. The high level of participation of foreign-born scientists and engineers in U.S. laboratories and classrooms warrants increased efforts to ensure that policies regarding their movement and activities are adequate and not unduly punitive.54

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the subsequent anthrax incidents, some public officials became concerned that research universities in particular could be at heightened risk of terrorism, vandalism, and cyber attacks. As a result, there has been increased pressure on academic institutions to monitor the activities of foreign national students and scholars, and the government has imposed greater restrictions on obtaining visas for foreign-born scientists wishing to train or work in the United States.

Policies, such as the USA PATRIOT Act and proposed increased restrictions through deemed exports, have placed new strains on universities that rely on foreign national students for much of their talent; that rely on a diverse student body as a key part of the education experience of students, faculty and scholars; and that rely on foreign national faculty and research scholars for their critical contributions. In the view of some, the current and proposed policies could unjustifiably stigmatize foreign national students by requiring them to wear special identification and to have special controls on access to laboratories. These policies run directly counter to the principle of


The National Academies. 2005. Policy Implications of International Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Students in the United States. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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