A number of business and education organizations joined together last week in Naperville to sponsor a discussion on common sense immigration reform. They seek to support passage of comprehensive immigration legislation in Congress soon.
Northern Illinois University (NIU) President Doug Baker said "We have more than a million undocumented students in America and each year 65,000 of them graduate from high school." He observed that only five to ten percent of undocumented students go on to college. "What a waste of resources and cycle of poverty we create," he continued.
Baker spoke of a current NIU student who maintains a 3.5 GPA while working three different jobs, but who still might not be able to pay for the remaining years of her college education. He said that because she is undocumented, the prospects for scholarships are uncertain and she is ineligible for financial aid.
Other speakers spoke to the need of comprehensive immigration reform, not just a focus on securing the U.S. borders. Border security is important in this age of terrorism several agreed but they stressed we must also provide a pathway to citizenship and full involvement in our communities. The U.S. is a nation built by immigrants who wanted to achieve a better life for their families. The current 12 million or more undocumented residents in the U.S. want a chance to do the same and the business representatives said a hard working labor force is needed.
The summit sponsors included the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition; NIU; the U.S., Illinois, Chicagoland and Naperville Area Chambers of Commerce; and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Rep. Pritchard represents the 70th district, serving the residents in portions of DeKalb, Boone, and Kane Counties, and reports to his constituents in a weekly e-newsletter.