The GOP presidential candidates sparred Tuesday night on national security, but there was at least one point of agreement among them, or at least between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
“I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here,” said Gingrich.
“I'd staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who's got a degree of math, science, a Masters degree, Ph.D,” said Romney.
The candidates explained that keeping foreign-born students who study science, technology, engineering or math in the U.S. was an important step in creating new technologies, new industries and new jobs.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a report on foreign-born bachelor’s degree holders living in the U.S. The numbers give some sense of how U.S. universities remain magnets for those seeking to study science, math or engineering. There are now 4.2 million foreign-born science and engineering bachelor's degree holders in the U.S., a number double the population of Houston, Texas, for comparison.
Foreign-born residents account for:
33 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in engineering
27 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computers, mathematics and statistics
24 percent in physical sciences
17 percent in biological, agricultural and environmental sciences
Among the foreign-born who had studied science or engineering:
57 percent were born in Asia
18 percent in Europe
16 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean
5 percent in Africa
3 percent in Northern America