The DREAM Act and Students

The DREAM Act has a lot to offer students who were brought to the United States as children. It has even more to offer the US.

The United States’ college and university system attracts some of the best students from all over the world. A college diploma from a US private college or state university is built on cutting edge information, making it extremely valuable.

Aside from the education they receive, students will often intern at companies within their fields of study, gaining practical experience in their industry. This marriage of education and experience makes them exceptional candidates for the workforce and creates some of the most sought after graduates on the planet.

If that weren’t enough of an incentive to come to the United States to study, we also have a vibrant community of investors who are always looking for the next big thing. Large complexes of specialized industries are often set up near colleges and universities that are known for excellence in a specific field.

Combine all these elements into one localized and easy to access area, and we have created a very nurturing environment for product and company creation. This also enables young startups to hire talented people and speed their product to market.

Silicon Valley is just one example of such an environment. When you combine Stanford University with Hewlitt-Packard, Apple Computer, Google, Facebook, Oracle, Intel and Sand Hill Road, you can see how such an ecosystem functions with amazing speed and strength. It’s no wonder that other parts of the nation have created industrial ecosystems surrounding their educational institutions as well.

So, it is with good reason many people come here from around the world to study and increase their chances for a good life. If we make it a priority to send these educated and talented people back home when their student visas expire, investors will be reluctant to pump money into a future product or company, knowing all of their investment in time and money will be going back home with them. The venture capitol community will not want to see their dollars exported to other countries with little hope of recouping their investments. This means less money will be put into work in our country to produce products and jobs, and our many micro economies scattered across our nation will feel this effect. Add to this misery the creation of a highly competent competitor in another nation, and the recipe for our economic success is dubious.

Since we are the ones who trained the student and gave them access to our considerable knowledge-base and investment resources, shouldn’t we be the ones who benefit from this ecosystem as well? Could you imagine what our national impact on technology would be like if we deported Sergey Brin of Google? Andy Grove of Intel? Andreas von Bechtolsheim and Vinod Khosla, co-founders of Sun Microsystems? Just those four (and there are many, many more) would have changed the face of our nation incredibly. Four people. That’s all it would take to create monstrous competitors in other countries, and if some people were to have their way, it would become policy to send these kids home when their studies were completed.

Throughout American history we have taken in immigrants, making it one of our national heritages. College graduates could easily be considered some of the best human capitol other countries are producing. How could we not want them?

When a company has a highly prized product or commodity, they are usually quick to take advantage of all the benefits it can bring them. Our educational system is one of our nations most prized institutions. We should be capitalizing on this resource and exploiting it’s potential for generating wealth and jobs inside our country. This is not a zero-sum gain. We need all the help we can get to stay competitive and financially strong. Are we so afraid of internal competition that we will purposely reduce our talent pool at the expense of raising our competitor’s? If we would we be so willing to export one of our greatest national resources to other nations, we might as well raise a flag of surrender right now and crown some other country as the new “Alpha” dog, and watch their strength and influence grow. They will obviously want it more than we do.

Our American can-do attitude got us where we are today: the world’s greatest innovator and financial powerhouse. If we are to stop our decline and stay ahead of increasing global competition, we will need to dig deep into our national strengths and step-up our competitive game, not export our resources and step-it-down.

For more information on how the DREAM Act will benefit our nation, read my new book, “America Needs A DREAM.”

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