12% of Americans Are Immigrants, But 70% of Top Science Students Are Children of Immigrants
From the Executive Summary of the new study "The Impact of the Children of Immigrants on Scientific Achievement in America" by Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy:
"One surprising characteristic unites the majority of America’s top high school science and math students – their parents are immigrants. While only 12 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born, 70 percent of the finalists in the 2011 Intel Science Talent Search competition were the children of immigrants (see chart above). Just 12 of the 40 finalists at this year’s competition of the nation’s top high school science students had native-born parents. While former H-1B visa holders comprise less than 1 percent of the U.S. population, 60 percent of the finalists had parents who entered the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are generally the only practical way to hire skilled foreign nationals. Finalists’ parents sponsored through a family preference category represented 7.5 percent of the total, about four times higher than their proportion in the U.S.
Many immigrant parents place a heavy emphasis on education, particularly in math and science, viewing this as a path to success in America. An important implication of the study is that preventing the entry of H-1B visa holders skilled immigrants, and family-sponsored immigrants would shut off the flow of a key segment of America’s next generation of scientists and engineers - the children of immigrants - because we would not have allowed in their parents. The benefit America derives from the children of immigrants in science and math is an additional advantage the country reaps from being open to talent from around the world. Americans should take pride in our openness to individuals and their children who can succeed in the U.S. without regard to class or place of birth. Liberalizing our nation’s immigration laws will likely yield even greater rewards for America in the future."
From the Conclusion: "The results also should serve as a warning against new restrictions on legal immigration, both family and employment-based immigration, since such restrictions are likely to prevent many of the next generation of outstanding scientists and researchers from emerging in America. The talents possessed by these children of immigrants are a wonderful gift to America, a gift we can all benefit from in the future so long as we can allow talented foreign nationals to come to the United States and pursue their American dreams."