Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Vivek Wadhwa, one of the Triangle’s better known and certainly most outspoken entrepreneurs, took to the national airwaves Sunday to warn his adopted country about the perils of a reverse brain drain.

Wadhwa, now an academic at Duke, Harvard, and UC Berkley, was featured by the CBS Sunday Morning show in an in-depth report about immigration.

Picking up on President Obama’s State of the Union speech in which he called for better science and math education, Wadhwa and others talked with CBS about another problem: The departure of well educated immigrant students back to their homelands instead of staying, working and growing new businesses or developing new technology in the U.S.

“I hope the CBS report does make an impact on the immigration debate,” Wadhwa told friends and colleagues in an e-mail about the report.

“America is suffering the first brain drain in its history and doesn’t know it,” he added. “To make matters worse, xenophobia is on the rise and some political leaders are pandering to uninformed segments of their electorate.”

Wadhwa is among the best-known advocates seeking expansion of high-tech visas and more leeway in allowing foreign-born entrepreneurs to earn residency status in the U.S. he is a native of India but now is a U.S. citizen.

His research in defense of immigrants has earned him a great deal of criticism, and he says even threats, from people opposed to more visas with U.S. unemployment already at double digits.

Quoted far in wide in a variety of magazines and newspapers, Wadhwa also has used columns he writes for TechCrunch, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Local Tech Wire to preach his gospel of how foreign-born entrepreneurs help create jobs.

“This is a must-watch, 7 minute segment, on today’s CBS Sunday Morning show,” Wadhwa wrote about the CBS piece. “It starts with what President Obama said in his State of the Union address about the importance of science and engineering education. It goes on to detail the reality of how we are losing the world’s best and brightest talent. I discuss my research. Many of my students are also featured in this along with my mentor at UC-Berkeley, AnnaLee Saxenian.”

“We need to invest in American education as CBS highlights,” he added. “But it is a big loss for the U.S. when foreign students return home—as we are forcing them to do.”

Watch the CBS story here.

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