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October 16, 2019
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University Leaders Sign Action Letter

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University Leaders Sign Action Letter

Moving Common Sense Immigration Reform Forward: A Call to Action by University Presidents Throughout the State of Illinois 

As college and university presidents, we are entrusted with cultivating the potential of students of diverse backgrounds for the betterment of our society, our communities and our economy.

This is why we are joining together, across public and private education sectors, across political affiliations and alongside the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition (IBIC) to call on the Illinois Congressional Delegation to support common sense immigration reform. IBIC is a growing and diverse group of businesses and business associations promoting sensible, common sense immigration reform to benefit the people and economy of our state, and many of us are proud to count ourselves as members.

Over and over again, we have witnessed talented, motivated students, eager to contribute their ideas and their talent, to our state’s economy and to our communities, challenged and obstructed by an immigration system in need of reform.  These young people are ready to establish and work for companies in our state and to help ensure Illinois keeps its competitive edge in this global economy. Unfortunately, they are facing roadblocks by an immigration system that was designed to meet the needs of the 20th, not the 21st century.

We have educated thousands of bright, talented, and highly motivated students from other countries who came to the U.S. because of the reputation of our institutions and the opportunities for a better life this country offers--only to see them refused visas and forced to return to their home countries. We watch in frustration as other countries, such as Canada and Chile, welcome them after they graduate and wonder why we cannot extend that same welcome.

We also often ask ourselves what is the potential loss to our economy and to our communities when talented, bright, young students never even consider enrolling in our colleges and universities because they feel they have no or limited opportunity of gaining employment after their graduation.

The impact of immigrants on the economy of the state of Illinois has been undeniable. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, nearly ninety percent of the patents from the University of Illinois are held by at least one immigrant inventor. According to NAFASA: Association of International Educators, Illinois’ 31,093 foreign students contributed $869.2 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2009-2010 academic year. Finally, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, every 100 immigrants who earn advanced degrees in the US and then stay to work in technical fields create 262 jobs for American workers.

The impact of common sense immigration reform should only magnify this impact. The Partnership for a New American Economy has found that the “combination of improved educational attainment and higher paid jobs for authorized immigrants” resulting from passage of the DREAM Act would result in “combined economic benefits of … approximately $329 billion over the next 20 years, leading to 1.4 million new jobs and at least an additional $10.2 billion in tax revenue.”  These are significant numbers—and they require serious and thoughtful attention be given to an issue that so impacts our communities, our state, and our country.

We call on our elected representatives in Congress to work with us to chart a new path for Illinois and the nation by supporting common sense immigration reform. The time has come to move forward.

Donna Carroll, President, Dominican University
John H. Anderson, Illinois
Cheryl Hyman, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago
Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, President, DePaul University
Chris Kennedy, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, University of Illinois

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