Obama encourages 'best and brightest' to stay in US
Washington: Referring to the innovative and entrepreneurial skills of immigrants, in particular Indians, US President Barack Obama has pushed for immigration reform to encourage the best and the brightest to stay in America and not to return to their home country after completing studies.
"We educate the world's young people in our universities, and then we just send them home, even if they're wanting to start a business or they've got some specialized skill.
We just send them home, and then they compete against us," Obama said in Las Vegas, a day after he announced a series of executive actions to fix the broken immigration system.
"We should be encouraging the best and the brightest to study here and stay here, and invest here, and create jobs here and businesses here, and industries here. You look at Silicon Valley - 30, 40 per cent of the companies that we now take for granted that have changed our lives, they were started by immigrants," Obama said.
"So that's what this issue is all about. And that's why it deserves reasoned and thoughtful and compassionate debate.
And that's why we have to focus not on our fears, we've got focus on our hopes," he said, explaining his executive actions that has benefited some five million undocumented workers, including hundreds and thousands of Indian-Americans, a significant numbers of whom are IT experts.
The executive action, said to be one of the largest measure by a US President on immigration, is expected to help a significant number of Indian techies who currently have to undergo a painful and agonising process of H-1B visas to get legal permanent status (LPR), popularly known as Green Card.
"We're not a nation that kicks out strivers and dreamers who want to earn their piece of the American Dream. We're a nation that finds a way to welcome them," he said, adding "we didn't raise the Statue of Liberty with her back to the world, we did it with her light shining as a beacon to the world.
Obama's new executive order, combined with his previous executive order of June 2012, could benefit some 600,000 of the estimated 1.5 million unauthorized Asians in the US, said Indian-American Prakash Khatri, the nation's first Immigration Ombudsman during President George W Bush's administration.
"Additionally, as many as 400,000 highly skilled Science Technology Engineering and Math college graduates, mostly from Asia, will benefit from the announced changes," he said.
The South Asian Bar Association also welcomed the executive actions of Obama on immigration. "We welcome these changes and applaud President Obama for his attention to this issue," said SABA North America president Mansi Shah.
"President Obama new declaration about immigration reforms is a very welcome move and he did this what he promised with the people of United States during his election," said North American Punjabi Association.