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Obama on why US is failing to retain talented people

February 26, 2015 15:06 IST

Immigration reformsPresident Barack Obama has rued the US is not able to retain the global talent it trains them at its universities because of a broken immigration system and made a passionate push for a comprehensive immigration reform.

"It's wonderful to see people, young people, talented, from all across the globe coming to stay in the United States.

“If you look at the history of the founders of Intel and Google and so many of our iconic companies, people like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, they were immigrants," Obama said in his address at the Florida University in Miami.

"One of the mistakes that we're making right now is we're training a lot of incredibly talented young people, they're going to our universities, getting advanced degrees, and then we're sending them back right away, even though they may want to stay and start businesses here and contribute to our community," said the US President.

"So one of the things that we talked about in the comprehensive immigration bill was how can we provide greater incentives and opportunities for young people with great

talent and higher degrees to be able to stay here -- particularly in areas like math and science and technology, where we know that right now we don't have enough engineers, we don’t have enough computer scientists," Obama said.

Obama said a lot of foreign students come to USA to study.

The fact that they come here to study doesn't automatically qualify them for legal residence or US citizenship, he said.

"I don't foresee a circumstance where suddenly anybody who is going to college here automatically is qualified for legal residence," he said.

"There will be criteria in terms of who it is that is able to apply, get legal residence, get a work permit, and maybe ultimately go through citizenship.

“But that's going to be through a legal process of legal immigration.

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“That's not going to be one that is resolved with respect to somebody who has been undocumented. Those are two different circumstances," he said.

"Part of what we can do through the comprehensive immigration bill is speed up our legal immigration system.

“A lot of people end up being forced through the undocumented pool because the legal process is so bogged down, so bureaucratic, so slow, oftentimes the allocations of quotas from different countries don’t reflect the modern world," he said.

"So one of the things that the Senate bill originally did was really change that in a smart way and it would have speeded things up.

“That's why we still have to get this bill passed and we’re still going to have to put pressure on it."

Obama said America is strong because of generation after generation of immigrants who embraced the ideals of America and then fought for those ideals, and fought in wars to defend the country, and built companies that employed people, and helped to build the railroads and the highways.

"All the things that we take for granted in this country, those were built by immigrants. We're all immigrants. That's who we are," he added.

Image: Demonstrators demand reforms in US immigration laws. Photograph: Reuters

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
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