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President to President

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ACE president’s weekly email newsletter to higher education leaders

CURRENT EDITION January 31, 2018 ~ Special Edition ~ Vol. 19, No. 4

President Trump’s State of the Union address last night featured an issue of critical importance to higher education—immigration. The president did not explicitly mention postsecondary education during his speech, but the long-standing issue of Dreamers was front and center. He advocated for his proposed immigration deal: a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers in exchange for $25 billion for a border wall with Mexico and sweeping changes to current visa programs, including limits on family reunification visas.​​​​

  •  Dreamers Issue Front and Center in State of the Union

    ​Because the issue of Dreamers is so important to all of us—as you know, many of these high-achieving young people are on our campuses—this special edition of President to President updates you on the status of these high-stakes immigration negotiations between the White House and Congress and how Dreamers may be impacted.

    ​The good news is that the president’s immigration proposal provides more substantial protections for Dreamers than previously offered by the White House. The proposal goes beyond offering legal status to just the roughly 800,000 Dreamers who had been enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy when President Trump rescinded it last September. The president has proposed extending legal status and a roughly 12-year pathway to citizenship to the much larger pool of Dreamers who were eligible for DACA status in the first place.

    We think that the president’s desire to offer legal status to all Dreamers is laudable and reflects the widespread bipartisan support for ensuring that these outstanding individuals are not left in limbo any longer as they try to make decisions beyond the next few weeks about their education, jobs, or service in the military.

    The bad news is that the president is conditioning the protection for Dreamers on making significant changes to the legal immigration system with little opportunity for discussion. These proposed changes are vigorously opposed by many Democrats, moderate Republicans, and pro-immigration rights organizations that we have worked closely with on the Dreamers issue. Among other changes, the president’s plan would curtail what critics of the current legal immigration system call “chain migration,” the ability of U.S. citizens to seek permanent legal residence in the United States for their parents, siblings, and extended family members.

    Is there room for a compromise that still results in protections for Dreamers? In an editorial this weekend, The Washington Post posited that the president’s framework “contains the elements of an imaginable deal. Legislators who want to get to yes should seize on those elements and start working.”

    We believe that this does indeed represent progress on the specific issue of protecting Dreamers. The president’s proposal moves the talks forward on Capitol Hill with an explicit list from the White House.

    At the same time, we continue to urge the Trump administration and Congress not to hold Dreamers hostage to a political face-off and put an unacceptable burden for reaching a final deal on the backs of these bright and talented individuals, who are American in every way but immigration status.

    The answer to reaching a permanent legislative fix for DACA that protects Dreamers continues to be a bipartisan compromise. We hope that compromise is closer at hand, but the reality is that the final decision on this serious matter will be forged by a group of about 15-20 people. While we will continue to make higher education’s voice heard, these decision makers are, at this point, fully familiar with what is at stake and the relevant issues and are likely unreachable by conventional advocacy.

    We will closely monitor this situation and provide updates as required. As always, you can get more information and contact your lawmaker through our Protect Dreamers Higher Education Coalition​ webpage.

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