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ACS issues policy statement on workforce-related immigration

Society supports continuing visa programs and providing immigration status for DACA recipients

by Linda Wang
January 10, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 2


Photo of immigration protesters.
Credit: Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom
ACS's newest policy statement clarifies the society's position on workforce-related immigration.

The American Chemical Society has adopted a new policy statement that supports immigration and work visa policies that strengthen US competitiveness and ensure the chemistry enterprise has the most qualified workers.

Specifically, the statement supports continuing visa programs for students, simplifying employer-sponsored permanent residency for US-educated foreign nationals, and revising the H-1B visa process.

“This statement enables the society to become more engaged in policy issues that impact the STEM workforce and innovation in the United States,” says Paul Jagodzinski, chair of the ACS Committee on Public Affairs and Public Relations (PA&PR), which reviews policy statements on behalf of the ACS Board of Directors. “Since the statement was adopted, ACS staff has been exploring partnership opportunities that will allow the society to have input into legislative proposals concerning the policy topics addressed by the statement.”

Additionally, the society has revised five existing policy statements and renewed three others without substantial revision.

ACS’s policy statements represent the society’s position on various topics of concern and importance to the chemistry community. ACS has 29 policy statements in four broad areas of interest to the society’s membership: fostering innovation through research and technology, strengthening science education and the scientific workforce, advancing sustainability and the environment, and promoting science in the public policy arena.

ACS’s various committees, with input from ACS members, develop the policy statements. Once a policy statement is approved by the ACS Board of Directors, it’s active for 3 years before it’s up for renewal or retirement.

Jagodzinski says the new policy statement on workforce-related immigration took 2 years to develop. Six ACS committees, led by the Council Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs, studied the topic of workforce immigration and sought input from ACS members before presenting the ACS Board with a draft.

According to the statement, “Foreign-born students often benefit from federal and state investment in university research while studying in the U.S. Sending their talent and future earnings to other countries greatly diminishes their potential contributions to U.S. businesses, communities, and GDP.”

The new policy statement also supports policies to expand opportunities for foreign nationals with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills and experience to achieve permanent residency. It also supports policies to enable residents covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to receive immigration status to complete undergraduate and graduate education in STEM fields, and for employer-sponsored US-based employment after graduation.

In addition to the new policy statement on workforce-related immigration, five statements were revised to clarify key points, although the specific policy recommendations remain mostly unchanged. These are the statements on science education policy, safety in the chemistry enterprise, ensuring access to high-quality science, global climate change, and chemical risk assessment and regulatory decision-making.

PA&PR renewed without substantial revision the statements on employment nondiscrimination, forensic science, and peer review.

Jagodzinski says ACS members can get involved in the legislative process through a number of channels. For example, members can sign up to receive alerts about various policy issues through the Act4Chemistry network. They could also join a local section government affairs committee. ACS also organizes congressional briefings and hosts an annual legislative summit, where members of the board of directors visit policy makers in Washington, DC.

ACS members are invited to review statements that are set to expire and offer feedback to the ACS committees considering revisions. For a list of these statements and for more information on ACS’s policy statements and advocacy tools, visit

ACS policy statements

Foster innovation through research and technology

“A Competitive U.S. Business Climate:Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs”: Supports a fair and level playing field that enhances competition and stimulates R&D. Supports policies that foster the growth of small R&D businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.

“Energy Policy”: Endorses a policy that prioritizes energy efficiency and includes the life-cycle costs of energy sources in their market prices, including the impacts on health and the environment. Encourages long-term orientation for funding and incentives.

“Intellectual Property”: Encourages policies that improve granted patents’ quality and consistency and the patent process’s efficiency. Urges policy makers to support information technology upgrades to the US Patent and Trademark Office and support sustainable open-access initiatives. Promotes consistent application of trade-secret protections.

“Science and Technology in the Budget”: Urges policy makers to restore investments in federal R&D funding to levels nearer to 1.2% of gross domestic product and recommends strategies to ensure federal dollars dedicated to R&D are used efficiently.

“U.S. Innovation and Entrepreneurship”: Supports investment in a world-class workforce through education and training, long-term commitments to basic research and technology development, and a sustainable infrastructure for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Strengthen science education and the scientific workforce

“Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”: Supports ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and encourages international cooperation, the sharing of scientific knowledge, and R&D on assistive technologies in meeting the requirement to implement the means for equal access to medical facilities, education, workplaces, and communication technologies.

“Employment Non-discrimination”: Recommends federal legislation to extend employment discrimination protection to include sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity.

“Healthcare Policy”: Supports policies for preventive care, availability and affordability of health plans, universal eligibility, portability of health coverage, and privacy of medical information.

“Importance of Hands-On Laboratory Science”: Supports hands-on activities in education and explores the proper role of computer simulations that mimic laboratory procedures as a useful supplement to them but not a substitute for them.

“Retirement Security”: Urges Congress to reduce the regulatory complexity of 401(k) plans available to small-business owners and promote faster vesting and more portable plans.

“Science Education Policy”:Supports ensuring that all students understand science in accordance with national standards; modernizing learning environments; strengthening science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teacher education programs; and nurturing students of all backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups, in pursuit of studies and careers in STEM.

“Teaching of Evolution: Fact and Theory”: Supports teaching evolution; opposes alternative, nonscientific theories; and urges states and localities to support high-quality science standards and curricula.

“Visa Restrictions and Scientific Progress”: Supports visa policies that facilitate scientific education and exchange and welcome foreign scholars, students, scientists, and engineers. Supports timely and reasonable screening processes for visits, greater transparency of the application process, and the issuance and management of visas that are more aligned with the purpose of academic study and scientific exchange.

“Workforce Related Immigration”:Encourages continuing visa programs for students and for corporations to transfer workers into the US. Supports simplifying employer-sponsored permanent residency for US-educated foreign nationals. Supports revisions to the H-1B visa process.

Advance sustainability and the environment

“Chemical Risk Assessment and Regulatory Decision Making”: Supports risk assessments that are based on sound science, that are protective of human health and the environment, and that include necessary information from the commercial chemical enterprise while protecting confidential business information.

“Global Climate Change”: Reviews the science and recommends action on greenhouse gas reduction and climate change adaptation strategies. Encourages continued funding for research into the effects of climate change while also emphasizing the importance of educating the public on the issue.

“Inherently Safer Technology for Chemical and Related Industrial Process Operations”: Endorses federal support for research and development to expand inherently safer technology options and use.

“Regulation of Laboratory Waste”: Reviews the pitfalls of regulations meant for large-scale chemical manufacturing being applied to laboratories.

“The Science and Technology of Hydraulic Fracturing”: Recommends conducting research on fracking and its impacts from a life-cycle perspective, its uses compared with replacement resources, methane emissions at fracking sites, the causes and extent of groundwater contamination, less-hazardous fracking fluids, and characterization of and methods for treating and disposing of liquid returns from fracking.

“Sustainability and the Chemistry Enterprise”: Defines the concept of sustainability in the context of the chemistry enterprise. Supports government incentives for sustainable technologies.

“Water Treatment and Conservation”: Supports US government action that develops water-use guidelines and initiatives; that encourages advancements in water reduction, treatment, and reuse technologies; that protects groundwater resources; and that prevents discharge of toxic substances into ground and surface waters.

Promote science in the public policy arena

“Encouraging Americans to Support Professional and Educational Activities through Financial Donations”: Supports tax deductions for charitable contributions and permanent extension of the individual retirement account charitable rollover provisions.

“Ensuring Access to High-Quality Science”: Supports using sustainable publishing models that provide universal access to scientific research. Supports the 10 principles outlined in the Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing, as set forth by the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers.

“Forensic Science”: Calls for scientific rigor, high-quality education, and standards in forensic science and for its integration with the broader scientific community. Backs evaluation and improvement of forensic analytical methods.

“Freedom of International Scientific Exchange”: Advocates freedom of scientific exchange and stronger scientific collaboration to benefit humankind.

“Peer Review: Ensuring High-Quality Science”: Urges support for scientific peer review processes that evaluate grant applications on the basis of intellectual merit and broader impacts and that are periodically evaluated for process effectiveness and efficiency and for reviewer freedom from interference in scientific merit assessments.

“Preventing the Reemergence of Chemical Weapons”: Supports efforts to improve chemical safety and security and the evaluation of alternative materials. Urges governments to prioritize actions to establish standards for responsible conduct and to prevent the use of pharmaceutical compounds as weapons. Encourages the US to continue supporting the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“Safety in the Chemistry Enterprise”: Supports the use of risk-based criteria in creating safety regulations and policies, and continued funding of research to inform policy makers and stakeholders in the creation of those regulations and policies. Supports government implementation of regulatory policies that foster innovation within a safer chemical environment.

“Scientific Integrity in Public Policy”: Supports the use of insightful, comprehensive, scientific, and engineering input for the development and evaluation of policy options. Encourages scientific integrity policies that help the federal government obtain and integrate scientific assessments into policy development and implementation.


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