Why higher education must be part of immigration reform

Last week, President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators outlined a plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Like the DREAM Act that has stalled for years in Congress, the proposal’s outline hints at an expedited pathway to citizenship for young people who came to the US as children if they attend college or serve in the military, writes Wendy Kopp for TIME.

As the details are worked out in the coming weeks, it is critical that legislation includes provisions that make it easier for undocumented high-schoolers to go to college. Education is the gateway to the American Dream. But today our immigration laws make higher education – a virtual requirement for financial security – out of reach for more than a million undocumented students.

Of the roughly 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from American high schools each year, only 5% to 10% will go to college, usually a community college, according to a 2009 report by The College Board. Many undocumented students don’t know if they’re allowed to apply for college, or are afraid that submitting applications will attract attention from the authorities. Those who do earn college acceptances are often forced to turn them down because they can’t afford to attend.
Full report on the TIME site