Eli Capilouto

Immigration Reform Reflects the American Dream

Published: Apr 19, 2013

Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to China with a delegation from the University of Kentucky to advance several partnerships growing between UK's colleges and departments and universities and industries in a country growing in economic importance.


One such partnership is between UK's Center for Applied Energy Research and the world's largest power company. During a meeting with industry representatives, we shared our exciting work in the development of clean coal technology and discussed partnerships, the exchange of students, and faculty collaboration as part of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center.


As we met, they described several multi-billion dollar research and development investments in their country’s energy sector. In comparison, the proposed Department of Energy’s FY2014 budget for fossil energy R&D was just over $420 million, reflecting an approximate reduction of $82 million over last year.


That stark reality underscores the competitive environment our country's students face today and in the coming years as our economy continues to be transformed by global forces.


We can't avoid it, nor should we try.


The changing landscape, in fact, demands more of the United States in educating and preparing a well-educated work force -- one outfitted with the skills necessary to compete and succeed in a global, multinational, multifaceted economy.


We can no longer afford to focus only locally, we must broaden our scope. But we can make changes here at home that will help ensure our competitiveness, particularly in science and technology where advances are occurring rapidly in ways that are shaping our economy in profound ways.


Last month, I joined the presidents of Cornell University, Arizona State University, and Miami-Dade College in a letter calling on colleges and universities across the country to voice support for a sensible solution for the United States' broken immigration policy.


On April 19th, some 75 institutions nationwide joined together on National Immigration Reform Day -- we are at the juncture of this important national dialogue. Universities are responsible for educating the workforce that creates jobs and fills employment ranks; and our graduate students, faculty and staff reach transformative breakthroughs, write patents and invent new technologies that fuel our economy.


In many ways, the existing, outmoded immigration policies – written nearly a half-century ago – are hindering us in each of these endeavors.


Consider that a quarter of the Americans who have won a Nobel Prize have been immigrants, and – in 2011 – more than three quarters of the patents received by the top-10 US patent-producing universities listed an immigrant inventor. Their innovations yield impressive economic growth for the United States; between 1990 and 2000 these discoveries have contributed to growing U.S. GDP by 2.4 percent, as reported by the Bureau of Economic Research.


In an economic context, 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.


While on our campus, international students bring a cultural richness to the university community; adding global perspectives to classroom discussions and conversations in our residence halls before they graduate. At the same time, international students and families had a net impact on the U.S. and Kentucky economies of some $21 billion and $137 million, respectively, in 2011-12, according to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisors.


The data tell a compelling story – one that parallels with an American Dream that inspired generations of immigrant entrepreneurs who traveled to the United States in pursuit of a better life.


Yet, in an increasingly interdependent world – we are making it difficult for immigrants to chart a promising path through education and, ultimately, employment in the United States.


Our workforce needs, especially in STEM education, are growing, and at the current rate of production, we will fall short of the necessary targets to accelerate and sustain economic growth. Roughly half of post-baccalaureate degrees awarded in STEM disciplines are to foreign-born students, but we lack the common-sense immigration policies to keep these graduates in the United States.


In short, we are preparing the brightest minds to lead the new global economy and then watch as they return to another country hungry for their entrepreneurial spirit – we’re competing against the students we educate.


As a nation of immigrants, we have an opportunity to seize our heritage and find an alternative method for engaging a vibrant part of our global community in our future. By choosing a path to sensible immigration reform, not only can we help Kentucky become more competitive nationally, but we can contribute to the overall global prosperity of the United States.




Unless otherwise cited, data included in this article was provided by the Partnership for a New American Economy’s National Immigration Forum.

Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
Oct 23
Career Assessment Workshop 10/23/2014
Reset Page