Note to Congress on the Indispensable Foreign Student


Michael Lind and I have an article in the New York Times this morning challenging Senator Dianne Feinstein’s and the U.S. Congress’s tilt on immigration policies, particularly her wrong-headed position in creating yet a higher hurdle than already exists for foreign students entering the United States.
I began to think about these Feinstein initiatives in a post the other day and had written in the New York Times previously that America was harming itself by seriously reducing the inflow of smart, talented people from the rest of the world to this country.
The NY Times link is here. If folks have difficulty registering to get access to the piece, notify me by email, and I’ll send the text to you.
Here is the intro to the piece:

IS the United States importing too many immigrant physicists and not enough immigrant farm workers? You might think so, to judge from two provisions that Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, added to the comprehensive immigration reform package that just fell apart in the Senate. Senator Feinstein insisted that the bill call for some fees for foreign students applying to study at American colleges and universities to be doubled, and also demanded that agribusiness get the right to 1.5 million low-wage foreign guest workers over five years. Combined, the two proposals sent a message to the rest of the world: send us your brawn, not your brains.
Whether Senator Feinstein’s amendments will resurface in any reconstituted legislation on immigration reform remains unclear. But her priorities reflect in many ways those of Congress as a whole. Congress seems to believe that while the United States must be protected from an invasion of educated, bright and ambitious foreign college students, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs, we can never have too many low-wage fruit-pickers and dishwashers

I suspect there will be some controversy over this piece, but perhaps the sense of the position will ring true for many.
On other fronts, anyone in DC who would like to attend two fascinating sessions I am hosting and chairing today as part of the public policy series of the New America Foundation’s “American Strategy Program” are welcome to notify Elizabeth Wu at or 202-986-4901 to RSVP.
The first is with New York Times economics columnist Louis Uchitelle who will be talking about themes in his new book, The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences. Sherle Schwenninger who was founding editor of the World Policy Journal and is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute and who also directs the New America Founation’s Global Middle Class Program, will offer reactions. That meeting will be taking place from 12:15 p.m. til 2:00 p.m.
The second meeting today is with American Prospect co-founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner who will be addressing “U.S. Foreign Policy as Political Failure.” Kuttner’s talk will be a fascinating indictment of both parties — and given his prominent role in Democratic Party intellectual circles, I think it will be quite a self-reflective commentary as well.
More later.
— Steve Clemons