Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Democrats’ Immigration Proposal Opens Up New Avenues to Residency and Citizenship

May 25th, 2010 by Ajuan Mance


When it comes to the immigration debate, I generally defer to those whose families and friends are most directly impacted by U.S. immigration policy. As an African American parts of whose family have been in the U.S. since at least the 18th century, I don’t always feel that mine is the most important voice on the subject. I try to make sure than my actions are in line with the principles of social justice, but I tend to blog on those issues that I know the best, mostly related to the experience of Black folks in the academy.

The Democratic Senators’ new immigration policy proposal has inspired me to weigh in this issue. There are many parts of his proposal that I either don’t understand or don’t agree with. The idea of a national I.D. card, for example, feels a little too apartheid-era for me. We already have passports and licenses; and coming up with but another card for people to forge when and if they deem it necessary won’t change the practices of those employers who depend on undocumented labor for the survival of their businesses.

I am also unimpressed by Democratic legislators’ promises to step up enforcement along the border. Individuals don’t make the choice to immigrate lightly, and any policy that fails to address the economic conditions that move people to risk arrest, injury, illness, or death in an sub-legal border crossing in the first place is bound to fail.

There is, though, one part of the Democratic Senators’ immigration proposal that I am very enthusiastic about, and that is the creation of a pipeline to legal residency through higher education. I welcome this opening of a route to Green Card status as a much-needed alternative to the military service route. Here’s how the 26-page policy document describes this part of Obama’s reform:

Foreign students will be permitted to enter the United States with immigrant intent if they are a bona fide student so long as they pursue a full course of study at an institution of higher education in a field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics


To address the fact that workers from some countries face unreasonably long backlogs that have no responsiveness to America’s economic needs, this proposal eliminates the per-country employment immigration caps.

— excerpted from REPAIR proposal (Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform)

I am glad to see the Democrats in the Senate beginning to address the issues of college students who are non-residents, though I would like to see this policy expanded to include students in all majors.

As the blogger DreamActivist wrote,

Welcome to the United States of Technocracy. We have no use for humanities, social science, or the arts.  No use for the future Isabel Allendes, Dan Akroyds, Mikhail Baryshnikovs, Elaine Chaos, Madeleine Albrights, and Isaac Asimovs.  I mean, let’s be real.  Their contributions to society are negligible.

— from

I’ll be watching to see what happens on this and, in the interim, I’ll be writing my state senators to suggest that the policy expand to include students in all fields, not just the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

To read the entire text of the Senate REPAIR proposal, follow THIS LINK.

Posted by Ajuan Mance

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