Greg Lee, left, and Richard Johnson check the diameter and threads of a bolt near a computerized lathe as students learn various skills in Mike Appio's manufacturing and CNC technology class at De Anza College in Cupertino, California, June 8, 2013. Credit: Patrick Tehan

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America’s standing as a global leader in STEM is in jeopardy, as competitor countries are making great strides in their advancements and our dwindling workforce is causing us to fall behind. To secure a thriving STEM sector of our own, we need to support those with the skills needed to fill these roles, including many foreign-born individuals with advanced STEM degrees.

Nearly 1 million students pursuing education at American universities are foreign-born. Too often, these bright minds are taking their talents elsewhere when they graduate because of an outdated system that makes it difficult for them to stay. In these technology-reliant times, cybersecurity and protecting our coveted research are essential to national security. As a veteran, I know all too well the importance of keeping our country safe from attacks of any kind, and having top talent working against us could be detrimental.

The  America COMPETES Act offers a solution to this problem. With all STEM provisions included, this bill would give foreign-born students a pathway to legal status so that they can work in America after graduation, in turn allowing us to benefit from their advanced knowledge and skills within these sectors.

Sen. Susan Collins already voted in favor of passing a  narrower Senate version, and I encourage her to keep up that momentum and advocate for its forward movement with all STEM provisions included. It’s what America needs to stay on top and part of what I’ve worked so hard to protect.

Scott Strom

Former state representative