UI biz dean Brown

Jeffrey Brown dean of the University of Illinois Gies College of Business, is shown in his office in July 2015 in Champaign.

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CHAMPAIGN — Deans from 50 U.S. business schools have published an open letter to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders calling for changes to immigration policy and rhetoric.

The signatories include Gies College of Business Dean Jeffrey Brown at the University of Illinois.

The letter urges political leaders to remove per-country visa caps, modernize the visa-processing system and reform the H-1B visa program “to make it possible for the most talented people to have a reasonable chance of gaining entry to the United States.”

The H-1B visas allow employers to hire immigrants temporarily in specialty occupations. Critics say some foreign-based tech firms have used the visas to replace higher-paid U.S. workers.

The letter also recommends creating a “heartland” visa to encourage talented immigrants to come to regions of the country that need them.

The United States doesn’t have the talent it needs in key fields or the capacity to train enough people with those skills to sustain U.S. economic growth over the next 30 years, the letter said.

Hundreds of thousands of high-skilled immigrants are turned away each year because “they failed to win the H-1B lottery,” the letter said.

“We are needlessly capping our growth and can do better,” it said.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign students at American business schools has declined for the past three years.

“The best and brightest from all around the world want to come here, and their hard work and expertise make our economy stronger and more globally competitive,” the letter said.

“Yet a combination of our outdated laws, artificial regional and skills-based caps on immigration, and recent spikes in hostility are closing the door to the high-skilled immigrants our economy needs to thrive.”


Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is jwurth@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).