136. Editorial Note

In a February 21, 1967, memorandum, Francis Colligan, Executive Secretary of the Council on International Education and Cultural Affairs, sent to the Council’s Chairman, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Charles Frankel, a copy of a position paper for Frankel’s approval. (National Archives, RG 306, USIA Historical Collection, Subject Files, 1953–2000, Entry A1 1066, Box 48, Educational Exchange Program, International Exchanges, 1967) The paper, entitled Some Facts and Figures on the Migration of Talent and Skills and prepared by the Council’s staff, presented the Council’s findings and recommendations regarding the so-called “Brain Drain” issue. (See Document 120.) The Council’s findings included: “the probability that there is a migration of skilled personnel to the United States” despite inadequate U.S. Government statistics; “any drain or gap which exists in developing nations should be stemmed if it in any way runs counter to U.S. developmental objectives;” the concern that “steps to regulate the migration would be effective or would be in the best tradition of an open society;” the “vast majority of aliens in scientific and technological occupations enter the United States as immigrants for permanent residence;” U.S. Government-sponsored J visa exchange visitors programs “do not appear to be contributing significantly to the Drain;” non-sponsored students are more likely to remain in the United States; and “any drain or gap which may exist is caused primarily by the migration of mature scientists, technical people, and other professional personnel” and not exchange students. The Council also made recommendations that no legal prohibitions be placed on entry into the United States, and that certain remedial steps be taken for developing countries facing a potential “brain drain” problem (including the U.S. Government’s encouragement of countries to do more domestically to stem the emigration of skilled workers, and to recruit these people “for special job categories in the home countries”).

The following month, the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization of the Committee on the Judiciary convened hearings about the issue on March 6 and 10. The hearings were entitled “International Migration of Talent and Skills,” which was the same title as a June 14–15, 1966, conference that the Council held to “help diagnose the so-called ‘Brain Drain’ problem and devise remedies.” (See Document 112.) During the March 6 hearing, Assistant Secretary Frankel addressed the relationship between U.S. Government-sponsored exchange programs and “Brain Drain.” According to Frankel and the Council: “In short, where the government is involved, the drain is clearly controlled. Our exchange programs are not self-defeating with respect to our efforts to assist the social and economic development [Page 419] of other countries.” Although he cautioned that the government’s data to support this “mainly reflects information about the exit from the United States of Exchange Visitors,” he continued that he could report “with reasonable accuracy that Exchange Visitors leave our shores.” (International Migration of Talent and Skills: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 90th Congress, 1st Session, March 6 and 19, 1967 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1968))

On October 6, the Council released a progress report on the “action taken by the member agencies to carry out the Council’s own recommendations” entitled “The Interagency Council and the ‘Brain Drain’ in Developing Countries.” In the report, the Council documented what it was doing “to administer the remedies” prescribed in Some Facts and Figures on the Migration of Talent and Skills. The report also noted key actions that were taken including: “closing the information gap;” “assisting foreign governments to stem the drain;” “emphasizing educational development abroad and regional training;” “dealing with the medical portion of the drain;” “improving the selection, counseling and placement of foreign students;” and “expanding and intensifying activities in the area of manpower surveys and educational planning.” (National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1967–1967, Entry UD WW 108, Box 4, Government Agencies—State, Department of, 1967)