All indications are that Congress is poised to embrace comprehensive immigration reform and send a bipartisan package to the president within the coming months.
That’s good news on several fronts. Our immigration system is one that was largely designed in the 1960s; it needs updating to reflect the 21st century world in which we live.
The current system results in our colleges and universities educating and training some of the smartest people in the world, only to see those students forced to leave the United States and apply their knowledge in other countries. The current system has also brought us to the point where we have a shadow economy, fueled by an undocumented labor force that is not fully contributing to the American economy, not fully paying local, state and federal taxes, and certainly not likely to add to our collective prosperity.
Clearly, bipartisan agreement between Congress and the president, on anything, will be a welcome relief for those of us who live outside the Washington bubble. It is encouraging that the Senate’s "Gang of Eight," four Democratic and four Republican senators, appear to be in the final stages of forging immigration reform legislation. It is exciting to see that their counterparts in the House of Representatives are close to announcing a similar framework for agreement.
The reform package is expected to include the DREAM Act, which focuses primarily on the children of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as young children and have been raised in our communities and educated in our schools. These are our neighborhood kids.
The DREAM Act would have a profoundly positive impact on higher education, on our economy and on our future prosperity. That’s why college presidents have been joined by a growing bipartisan chorus of Americans calling for its enactment.