Jobs in scientific research labs are not highly-sought by young Americans. The pay is low, glamor is rare, and hours are long. Foreign scientists, Ph.D.s, and post-docs are doing a significant amount of American research, yet most university and government labs, as well as research centers, have policies to not sponsor immigrant petitions for these talented scientists to continue their research. The rationale for this unwillingness to help grow the careers of foreign scientists in America, to help them become American, is a stigma that they may be trying to steal research for their country of origin. The work of these scientists, often performed under much suspicion and rewarded with a paycheck barely above the poverty line, is then regularly leveraged by the star principal investigators to publish papers and secure grants and status at research institutions.
While many famous and award-winning American scientists and industrialists are in fact immigrants themselves, or children of immigrants, the increasing difficulty of obtaining visas and green cards for the best and the brightest is causing us to lose our scientific and technological leadership in the world.