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The interaction of disparate cultures, the vehemence of the ideals that led the immigrants here, the opportunity offered by a new life, all gave America a flavor and a character that make it as unmistakable and as remarkable to people today as it was to Alexis de Tocqueville in the early part of the nineteenth century.

—John F. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants



America has always been a nation of immigrants. As the CEO of a company that works to support individuals and their pursuit of education and workplace success, I am alarmed and concerned by the actions taken by the President’s executive order this past weekend to restrict the entry into the United States of certain immigrants. Some are seeking refuge from the devastations of war, while others are in fact U.S. residents, but in nearly every case they are simply seeking to advance a better life for themselves, their families, and our nation.

Of the more than 1 million international students currently enrolled in U.S. postsecondary institutions, approximately 17,000 come from countries in the current immigration ban. Many of those students are understandably confused about what their futures may hold. And beyond these questions about their future education and career opportunities is also the potential “brain drain” that could impact U.S. companies in the long term and which should be equally alarming to us as a nation. An estimated 35% of all foreign students in the U.S. are pursuing degrees in STEM fields, and upon graduation many of them will likely be offered jobs with some of America’s largest tech firms: Apple, Microsoft, Google, DuPont, Exxon-Mobil, and Dow, to name just a handful. Because of the recent executive order, the contributions of these graduates to American innovation and economic competitiveness are now seriously in question.

As many companies around the world know, diversity breeds innovation and innovation breeds business success. Our own company benefits from the commitment of immigrants and foreign nationals—myself included—to helping individuals around the globe and here in the States achieve college and career success.  ACT is building for the future, and as we innovate to improve our own solutions and the measurement industry as a whole we will rely on talent from across the globe. This weekend’s immigration actions will have serious implications to the way we attract the best and brightest from around the world; without them we can’t bring about the required innovation to fix the American education system. We need help from outside the U.S. to find new ways to remedy our serious achievement and skills gaps. We are proud of our employees and the innovative culture that people from varied cultures and counties bring to ACT, and we are stronger because of our diverse culture. Being inclusive is one of our guiding principles.

Denying entry to people who have much to add to the country and who are often already here legally for work and education purposes runs counter to the ideals of a country founded by immigrants seeking safe harbor and sanctuary from foreign oppression. Creating blanket blockades of individuals from certain countries is not a formula to solve America’s immigration and security issues – we can and must do better than what we’ve seen this weekend.

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