Of the nine people who shared this year's Nobel Prizes in chemistry, physics and medicine, eight are American citizens, a testament to this country's support for pioneering research. But those numbers disguise a more important story. Four of the American winners were born outside of the United States and only came here as graduate or post-doctoral students or as scientists. They came because our system of higher education and advanced research has been a magnet for creative talent.
Unfortunately, we cannot count on that magnetism to last. Culturally, we remain a very open society. But that openness stands in sharp contrast to arcane U.S. immigration policies that discourage young scholars from settling in the U.S.
Those policies come at a high price. Graduate and postgraduate student immigrants are essential to creating new, well-paid jobs in our economy. From MIT alone, foreign graduates have founded an estimated 2,340 active U.S. companies that employ over 100,000 people.
Today, discovery and innovation increasingly spring from a creative network of the finest talent everywhere across the globe. From new advances in medicine to scientific breakthroughs that spawn new industries and sustainable jobs, the work of science and engineering is being done by individuals who can live almost anywhere.
To be part of that global creative network we must inspire more young Americans to pursue scientific careers, and we must rapidly reform U.S. immigration policies that drive away talented young scholars who would otherwise decide to live, work and innovate here.