According to a June poll by First Focus, an advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy, 70% of Americans support the DREAM Act. Rallies are occurring all across the country. There is even a hunger strike in Texas to help get the bill passed. In addition, legislators from the six New England states seem to be highly in favor of it. Eight of the region’s 12 U.S. senators and 19 of its 22 members of the House are likely to vote yes on the DREAM Act, according to www.dreamact.info.
The DREAM Act would grant undocumented youth eligible for a six-year-long conditional path to citizenship that requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.
How might the act affect New England?
Based on data from the U.S. Census, Department of Homeland Security, and StateMaster, my rough and conservative estimates indicate that approximately 206,000 illegal immigrants live in New England. About 121,000 of them would be under age 35 (so potentially eligible for DREAM Act benefits).
NEBHE’s New England 2025 initiative states that New England will need 665,000 additional college degrees by the year 2025. While not all of those eligible under the DREAM Act would become college graduates, if only 20% of those eligible earned a college degree that would be an additional 24,280 college degrees.
A lot is said about the potential cost of the DREAM Act, but this is a country built on the belief that education is a strong investment. The real concern should not be what the cost of the act is, but what benefit an investment in 25,000 college degrees would bring New England. Or even more so, what is the cost if we lose students? America needs to support all talented individuals within its borders if we are to maintain our status as the top economy in the world.
Related Posts: Mass. Gov. Patrick Vows In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants; Immigrants as “Jet Fuel” for Jobs in Mass.; Papers? Fairfield Gets Grant to Study Undocumented Students; Bipartisan Support for DREAM Act; Immigrant Education