The current U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, as well as any future San Marcos district representatives, should help grant legal U.S. residency to undocumented immigrants who have earned a college degree.
One hundred thirty-four undocumented immigrant students were enrolled at Texas State as recently as fall 2010, according to the honor thesis of Beatriz Gomez, international studies masters student. The thesis is titled Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Academic Experiences of Undocumented, Hispanic Students at Texas State University.
The number of undocumented immigrant students enrolled will steadily increase as the university’s student population grows. Employment will not be available once the undocumented immigrants complete their studies. Gaining legal residency is vital for these graduates, so they may apply what they have learned at Texas State in their chosen fields of study. Likewise, Texas State needs the degrees it has awarded to be put to good use.
The current alternative for undocumented immigrant graduates is to return to their native countries. Many of these same graduates have no recollection of their country of birth, having been brought to the U.S. at a very young age. Therefore, leaving the U.S. is simply not a viable option for them. The skills and education these graduates attained at Texas State would not directly benefit any community, in or out of the U.S., without some addendum to the current undocumented immigrant situation.
U.S. congressional Democrats have been supporting the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, a bill that in-part allows undocumented immigrant college graduates a path to citizenship. As noble as the bill may sound, the DREAM Act has failed to gain bipartisan support because its short-cut path to citizenship threatens to encourage more illegal immigration.
The process to achieve citizenship is a lengthy and costly one. It is unfair for people who did not follow the law in immigrating to the U.S. to win citizenship before those who did actually obey immigration laws. It sets a bad precedent in U.S. immigration laws by creating a loophole that only helps attract more unlawful immigration.
Two Florida Republicans, Rep. David Rivera and Sen. Marco Rubio, are in the process of drafting two separate pieces of legislation to help undocumented immigrant students out of their predicaments. Rivera has introduced the Studying for Adjusted Residency Status (STARS) Act. Rubio is working on similar legislation to help build a compromise between Democrats and Republicans.
These alternative DREAM Act bills would help allow for undocumented immigrant students to lawfully gain residency. The beneficiaries would then follow the same course and meet the same expectations as people who came to the U.S. following the law.
These proposals have been met with resistance by DREAM Act zealots, who are playing an all-or-nothing game with the future of undocumented immigrant students. In their ridiculous obstinacy, a great opportunity is being wasted. Rivera and Rubio are at least working towards a realistic remedy.
Whether the winner in November is Lloyd Doggett or Susan Narvaiz, the U.S. representative for San Marcos should support Rivera’s and Rubio’s more reasonable alternatives to the DREAM Act. For the best interest of Texas State’s alumni, it’s time to stop simply dreaming about permanent residency for college graduates and to start making it a reality.
–Editor’s Note: Beatriz Gomez is a former employee of The University Star.