Higher Ed and the Dreamers: The Big Winners in Immigration Bill By Far - Higher Education

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Higher Ed and the Dreamers: The Big Winners in Immigration Bill By Far

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Compromise is imperfect, but colleges and universities have to be happy with the immigration bill as it stands.

Whatever the Gang of Eight hammered out in the Senate is still likely to undergo some changes as it goes through the lawmaking process.

But if it stays intact, it’s because conservatives knew it was time to give in on the DREAM Act, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.

Hard to believe it was actually first proposed in 2001, but it’s taken 13 years for the politics to finally work in the favor of dreamers and their supporters.

However, it’s such a bargaining chip, it’s probably working to the detriment of giving leeway to advocates of various other immigration provisions.

As part of the bill, the dream eligible—those who arrived as minors and completed either two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution—could qualify for legalization—e.g., citizenship—in just five years. What’s more, older dreamers, 30 and older, are now eligible.

A five-year path to citizenship? That’s so much better than the main provision for others here illegally. The path to citizenship could mean as many as 13 to 15 years.

Don’t think the Dreamers aren’t pinching themselves. They’ve got the best deal going. And so do all of the institutions of higher learning that backed the DREAM Act.

(See a list of those institutions here: http://www.nilc.org/higheredsupport.html)

But what’s good for the dreamers has kept others awake in a cold sweat.

For example, while many Asian Americans are beneficiaries of DREAM Act provisions, the Asian American community in general is stunned by the lack of family values in the current immigration package.

Asian Americans, for example, are livid that visas for older brothers and sisters have been eliminated. So have visas for older married children. Family unification no longer matters as much as a merit system for employers and corporates—especially the tech firms like Intel and Facebook. For the first time, they lobbied the Senate to get more HIB visas for high-tech and STEM workers and students—and won.

It was a game changer of sorts.

Immigration used to be about re-joining previous family members who immigrated to America. Now it seems that getting into America is like applying for college, making America a Harvard USA.

Will conservative hardliners give in on family values?

I think it’s unlikely. They’ve already made a huge concession on the DREAM Act.

One shouldn’t expect more.

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