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Archive for the ‘Immigration Policy’ Category

statue_of_liberty_200x150In a year-end bipartisan near miracle, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have come together to propose a bill to provide protection for young immigrants who have been granted or are eligible for protection from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. DACA is an executive order implemented by the Obama administration. Because it is an executive order, and not a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, it could easily be rolled back by the incoming administration. That is why bipartisan congressional action is so essential for young immigrants who want to continue to contribute to America, the only home they have ever known.

Senator Durbin and Graham’s bill, Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act or the BRIDGE Act, will be introduced in the new year in the new Congress to protect immigrants brought to the United States as children without documentation. These are our children; they played by the rules attending school with our children, graduating from our high schools. Mirroring DACA, BRIDGE applicants would be required to pay a fee, undergo criminal background checks, and be determined not to pose a security threat.

These young people did nothing wrong, and have contributed to our communities. They want to continue their education and legally work in the United States. They need Congress and the American people to make it possible.

We applaud Senator Durbin and Senator Graham for working together to protect those young people who have or are eligible for DACA. Let this year-end bipartisan act be a harbinger of a new year and a new Congress brimming with bipartisan bills that bring Americans together. Only then will we be able to tackle the underlying issue: create a bipartisan bridge to an immigration system that works for the United States with a path out of the shadows for undocumented immigrants who want to get in a line for legal immigration status.

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The United States must foster policies and practices that welcome international students to our institutions of higher education. Misstating the facts about immigrants in this country not only distorts the policy debate, but also makes those who are born outside our borders less likely to feel they are welcome here and that their contributions are appreciated.

In his much anticipated immigration policy speech, Presidential candidate Donald Trump distorted facts about immigrants. By stating that, “62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants used some form of cash or non-cash welfare programs, like food stamps or housing assistance,” Trump implies that undocumented immigrants receive federal government assistance. In fact, the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, commonly known as welfare reform, effectively barred undocumented immigrants from receiving any federal benefits. (It also severely curtailed access to federal benefits programs by legal immigrants.) Similarly, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the food stamp program until 2008.

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statue_of_liberty_200x150This week, the United States welcomes the 10,000th refugee fleeing the violence and turmoil in Syria, thus following through on a promise made by the Obama Administration last year. More could and should be done. NAFSA urges Congress and the next administration to amplify efforts and provide security to as many as 100,000 refugees from Syria in the coming year. As NAFSA CEO Marlene M. Johnson noted in her congressional testimony last year, we have the ability and duty to open our doors to an even greater number of people in need.

In addition to providing security and hope to those fleeing terror, we also urge the administration to streamline the visa process for refugee students in order to ensure that Syrian students seeking higher education in the United States have a path to do so. The administration could, for example, ease the requirement that foreign students demonstrate they have no intent to immigrate to the United States. The administration could also address the severe logistical challenges foreign students face by allowing required in-person interviews to take place in locations other than U.S. consulates.

The United States is viewed by the world as the leader in international education. We not only have the capacity to provide refugee students with an education that begins to reshape the future that was stolen from them, but also the moral obligation to do so.

Incoming refugees are properly and thoroughly screened prior to their arrival in the United States in order to ensure our own safety. By taking the steps to further the education of victims of war—especially in higher education—and providing them opportunities to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new campuses and communities, we foster greater global peace and security as well.

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International students and professionals are critical to the strength and well-being of communities across the entire United States, yet their impact is too often overlooked or taken for granted. By delaying meaningful immigration reform, we risk losing the valuable contributions made by these immigrants.

Our Healthcare System Relies on Foreign-Born Professionals

Our healthcare system relies on foreign-born workers, and the demand for medical professionals from outside our borders will only increase. Currently, twenty five percent of physicians and surgeons working in the United States–plus comparable portions of other healthcare positions–were born elsewhere.

As the baby boomer population ages, they will increasingly need more medical care. In addition, their retirements will create a deficit of doctors, surgeons, nurses, health aids, dentists, pharmacists, and clinical techs. As a result, the ability to provide healthcare will be significantly strained, furthering a need for immigrant healthcare professionals.

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Last Thursday, the Supreme Court, deadlocked at 4-4, rendered a terse, nine-word, one-sentence non-decision on the executive actions known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) and DACA plus (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The absence of one Justice on the bench deprived more than five million people of the just recognition they deserve.

It took courage for people to step forward to ask for temporary relief from the threat of deportation for themselves and their family members. Their goals were to be recognized, to be heard, to go to school and to earn a living, and to demonstrate their desire to keep their families together. That courage was met by a Congress and Supreme Court that are incapable of action, and politicians using people as political footballs, kicking the vulnerable back to the shadows.

Our country has suffered through fractious debates over the past decade on several issues, perhaps none as contentious as immigration. This has caused paralysis. When Congress had the opportunity to address comprehensive immigration reform, the House failed to act and permitted the issue, and those affected, to languish. The administration then announced efforts to prioritize enforcement efforts, with mixed results.

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As international educators, we understand that global learning leads to a more engaged and welcoming United States, and a more secure and peaceful world. To be fully realized, these goals require a functioning immigration system. Our immigration law is the face the United States presents to the world. When it is broken, when the welcome mat is only out for some or pulled away entirely, the world takes note.

Immigration law impacts international education by dictating who may come to the United States, for how long, and what they can do while they are here. International education suffers when the law makes it difficult for international students, scholars, researchers, and others to come to the United States to learn and work. Additionally, by prohibiting the family members of international students from working or studying while they are in the United States, we send a message that they are not welcome, and add additional burdens for international students and scholars to endure.

Perhaps even more troubling is the way our current immigration law impacts the story we tell the world about ourselves. Our story is one of a nation of immigrants that welcomes new people who aspire to work hard and become Americans. Too frequently, in too many places in the world, our aspirational story has been eroded by a perception of anti-immigrant rhetoric and laws targeting immigrants for capricious or harsh treatments. As a result, our ability to achieve the goals of international education are crippled. Reforming immigration law supports the mission of international education, advancing global engagement by welcoming people from around the world to live, work, and study in our communities.

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Do you know there are children in the United States of America being denied an education? The Associated Press reports that in at least 35 districts in 14 states hundreds of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been turned away from schools, discouraged from enrolling, or pushed into programs that cannot meet their needs.

Not only is this abhorrent, it is illegal. In 1982, the Supreme Court held in Plyer v. Doe that denying primary and secondary education to undocumented children violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Education is fundamental to the fabric of society and key to ensuring people are equipped to lead economically productive lives to the benefit of everyone.

Whatever your position on immigration reform, the law regarding the education of children is settled: we do it. It doesn’t matter if the children arrive in our communities by themselves or with their parents. It doesn’t matter if there is an ongoing debate as to whether the children are refugees or fleeing poverty. Denying a child a proper education is a lifelong punishment, for both the person, the community and the world. It is appalling that schools in the United States of America are denying an education to children.

Please join us at ConnectingOurWorld.org to stay informed on the latest immigration and higher education news.

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We are gripped by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Europe as a seemingly unending number of people seek refuge away from countries wracked with war and terrorism.

It can be easy for Americans to look across the ocean and call for swift action to address the suffering of those seeking safety and a better future for themselves and their children. It is harder for us to deal with the similar tragedies in our own backyard. The number of refugees at the U.S. southern border fleeing from violence and narco-terrorism in Central America has declined dramatically from last year. But it isn’t because those countries have gotten safer, it is because the United State has worked closely with Mexico and other nations to turn people away before they get to the U.S. border.

Those who sought protection in the United States were sent in large numbers to detention centers – jails – to be held for months at a time. Mothers and children—babies—were held in jails for months without knowing what would happen to them. The stated goal of the Administration putting them in jail was to deter others from seeking protection in the United States. Only recently did a court order the swift release of families from detention while they await decisions on their requests to remain in the United States.

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Could you use an elixir for disillusionment with the U.S. political system or the hand-wringing about the future of the United States? Listen to “Abdi and the Golden Ticket,” a story broadcasted on NPR’s “This American Life” about Abdi Nor, a Somali refugee living in Kenya who won the Diversity Visa (DV) program lottery.

The goal of the DV lottery, when it was created by Congress in 1990, was to diversify the immigrant population by allowing people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to apply for one of 55,000 green cards available annually under the program. Unlike the vast majority of others who apply to live permanently in the United States, DV applicants aren’t required to have family already here or an employer sponsoring them.

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Reports of death have been greatly exaggerated at least since 1897, when Mark Twain told the New York Journal that contrary to reports, he was in fact alive. So it is with immigration reform which, these days, is the subject of repeated obituaries. You only die once—unless, apparently, you’re immigration reform, which dies in our newspapers and on our TV screens with monotonous regularity.

One reason these frequent death reports are getting boring is that we always know the culprit—there isn’t even any suspense. In the case of immigration reform’s most recent demise, a hitherto unknown politician named David Brat holds the bloody dagger. His defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia seventh district primary supposedly proves that the tea party is again ascendant and that all hope for immigration reform is gone.

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