Campus Day of Action for Immigration Reform

To the Campus Community,

This week, U.S. colleges and universities are celebrating the contributions of foreign-born students and faculty involved in higher education. The celebration culminates on Friday, April 19, with a "Campus Day of Action for Immigration Reform." Based on this national initiative, it is clear that every institution fortunate enough to have benefited from the prolific teaching, research, scholarship and innovation contributions of foreign-born students and faculty understands the great need to reexamine current immigration law.

America's national interests are best served when the world's top scientists, researchers and engineers can live and work in the United States. Today more than 450 foreign-born men and women are working at Stony Brook, contributing to research and discovery here, while approximately 3,600 students from 110 countries, all with non-resident status, are being educated here. This combined population of foreign scholars, current and future, is deeply enriching our campus by bringing diverse perspectives to the classroom, and indeed, broadening Stony Brook's imprint on the world. What's more, Stony Brook's international student body is disproportionately likely to pursue innovation-rich fields such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). While our education system attracts the brightest minds from around the world, our laws make it difficult for those students to remain here after graduation and apply their education in the United States.

So what must we do to give them their chance at the American dream, and by so doing, help bolster America's competitive edge in this global economy? We need a new common-sense approach to immigration. We need to create a pathway toward citizenship for the sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants that will allow them to become citizens and will remove federal and state barriers to their access to higher education. We need to streamline the process of green cards for advanced STEM graduates and eliminate per-country cap limitations, so the best and brightest international students stay in this country, complete their education, and keep their innovation, job creation and vital research here at home.

This can be accomplished as our elected leaders who represent us in our nation's capital forge ahead in a bipartisan way to produce new immigration reform proposals, including reform to the nation's green card and H-1B visa processes, and reforms to student visa processes. Consider the day when we can celebrate the reduction of the backlogs for employment-based green cards and can award green cards to foreign born scholars who have received a PhD or Master's degree in science, technology, engineering or math disciplines from an American university.

Finally, we need to expand the H1 visas so we can attract more outstanding students to the United States and keep the pipeline of excellence intact. These measures will help preserve the American dream for thousands of students, and will ensure that U.S. universities and industry retain their global leadership in research and development.

I invite you to take a moment to learn more about a few members of our campus community who have shared their personal experiences.

Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D.