As our nation gears up for the 2016 presidential election season, one topic that still remains unresolved is immigration
A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 72% of Americans support granting legal status to undocumented immigrants if certain requirements are met.
The same survey also found that 51% of Americans think immigrants strengthen the economy, while 41% see them as a burden.
Here’s one thing for us to think about when we consider whether immigrants are (or can be) an asset or a burden to our economy: education.
Currently, undocumented immigrant children have access to public education until they graduate from high school. After that, however, society seems to lose interest in investing in their future. In-state college tuition is not an option in most states, and even when it is, grants and loans are usually unavailable, and with no legal papers, getting a job is difficult if not impossible.
What that means is that we, as a nation, are investing in these children’s education for approximately 12 years, and then suddenly, as we get closer to seeing some return on our investment, we drop the ball. What we’re technically saying is, “in order to punish your parents for coming here illegally (or overstaying their visa), we are going to throw away all these years of public education we invested in you.”
Sure, those undocumented families are facing the consequences of their decisions. But also from an investment point of view, aren’t we punishing the nation as a whole? Isn’t that a waste of money and resources? Wouldn’t we benefit more from their brain power to strengthen our nation.
I had the opportunity to catch up with a young man in Miami recently who until not long ago, struggled with the uncertainty of not having access to higher education because of his legal status.
Alejandro F. came to the U.S. when he was 15-years-old to reunite with his mother, who had been working in the U.S. to provide for him in Honduras. Both Alejandro and his mother came here legally and overstayed their visas. They knew the risk they were taking by breaking the law, but they considered it worth it for the sake of a better future. A future they couldn’t have in Honduras.
Meet Alejandro, an outstanding student, immigrant, leader, U.S. resident now, and most importantly, a follower of Christ.
Yes. This is a thorny issue, but ignoring it is not going to make it go away. It’s necessary that all of us, individually, take the time to explore this issue to come up with better solutions that will benefit and strengthen our nation.