IF NOT for immigrants, Silicon Valley could still be filled with fruit orchards and U.S. hospitals would lose over a quarter of its workforce.
Without immigrants and their families, there would be no Tesla, no Yahoo, no EBay and no Apple. Hospitals would be dangerously short staffed. Research and development, which creates jobs and the economy of the future, would be impaired and the United States would lose its position as the world's economic powerhouse.
Forty-two percent of California’s workers in science, technology, engineering and math occupations were born in a foreign nation, according a recent analysis by the American Immigration Council, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
“The importance of foreign-born workers in STEM occupations cannot be overstated,” according to the same report. “As the demand for STEM workers continues to increase, foreign-born STEM workers will play a key role in U.S. productivity and innovation.”
The study, “Foreign-born STEM Workers in the United States.” looked at the occupational, gender, educational and geographic distribution of foreign-born STEM workers in the U.S., using 2015 survey data by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Most of Donald Trump's immigration measures have been focusing in securing our borders and adding further restrictions against Muslims and refugees from six countries. His rhetoric and the actions taken by his administration have given rise to an anti-immigrant sentiment from his supporters resulting in acts of hate, from beatings, shootings and burning of mosques.
Nationally, about one-quarter of the nation’s STEM workforce is foreign-born, according to the report. It has grown significantly in recent years, doubling from 11.9 percent in 1990 to 24.3 percent in 2015, according to the AIC, which studies immigration to the United States.
STEM employment varies a great deal by state. For example, in 2015, using the narrow definition, the foreign-born made up more than 40 percent of all STEM workers in New Jersey (43.8 percent) and California (42.4 percent). In 16 other states, the foreign-born make up 20 percent or more of all STEM workers.
When the health and social science occupations are added, foreign-born STEM workers make up slightly smaller shares of the STEM workforce in all but four states. In Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Wyoming, the share of STEM workers that is foreign-born is higher when using the broader definition of STEM occupations, indicating that foreign-born workers are more numerous in health care and education occupations.
In 2015, using the broader definition of STEM, foreign-born workers made up more than 20 percent of the STEM workforce in 12 states. The states with the highest shares of foreign-born in STEM occupations were: California (36.8 percent); New Jersey (35.8 percent); and New York (29.4 percent). Foreign-born STEM workers made up at least 2.8 percent of the STEM workforce in all 50 states.
One study of workplaces found that adding 100 foreign-born workers in STEM fields with advanced degrees from U.S. universities led to an additional 262 jobs for U.S.-born workers.
The AIC study also found that the nation’s foreign-born STEM workers are more highly educated than their U.S.-born co-workers. Almost half, or 47 percent, of foreign-born STEM workers had five or more years of college, compared to 26 percent of all STEM workers.
As demand grows in these fields, so will the need for an educated workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that STEM occupations will increase about 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, compared to 11 percent projected for all occupations.
“While increasing the number of native-born Americans in STEM fields is critical,” the report concluded, “foreign-born STEM students and workers may still be needed if the United States is to be prepared for future labor needs and excel globally.”