University of Washington President Mark Emmert has written to both Washington senators expressing his strong support for the federal DREAM Act, which would allow some undocumented immigrant students to earn conditional permanent residency in exchange for completion of a college degree or two years of military service.
Students with conditional permanent residency would be eligible for student loans and federal work-study programs, but they would not be eligible for federal financial aid such as Pell Grants. At the end of six years of conditional permanent residency they would be eligible to become U.S. citizens.
“The DREAM Act would help ensure that these talented individuals stay in the United States legally, thereby contributing to our nation’s economic and social well-being,” Emmert wrote.
The DREAM Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, would allow an estimated 65,000 undocumented students to consider going to college in the United States. These students were brought to the U.S. as children. They live under risk of deportation.
In his letters, Emmert notes that Washington, along with nine other states, has passed a law allowing undocumented students who graduate from a Washington high school to qualify for in-state tuition. A report by Roberto Gonzalez, UW assistant professor of social work, shows that states that have passed such laws have not experienced a large influx of new immigrant students. However, those students that do go on to college have difficulties in moving into the U.S. workforce.
“These are students who will go on to become the next generation of health professionals, business leaders, engineers, and other members of the educated workforce necessary to be competitive in a global economy,” Emmert wrote.