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Associated Press
University president David W. Pershing

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah college presidents joined their colleagues around the country calling for immigration reform to provide more green cards for foreign-born students who earn graduate degrees.

University of Utah President David Pershing and Utah State University President Stan Albrecht were among 165 university presidents who signed a letter to the president and Congress saying the U.S. can no longer wait to fix the immigration system. The letter urges a bipartisan solution to visa reform that would provide green cards for foreign-born students who earn advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

Low limits on visas leave immigrants with no way to stay or facing untenable delays for a permanent visa, the presidents said. They warn of a "growing skill gap across America's industries."

The letter cites a new report, Patent Pending, that found foreign-born inventors were contributors on 76 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the U.S. last year.

"But after we have trained and educated these future job creators, our antiquated immigration laws turn them away to work for our competitors in other countries," the letter states.

The Partnership for a New American Economy organized the letter. The New York-based organization brings together politicians and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create American jobs.

Dennis Romboy

Twitter: dennisromboy