December 2, 2010
Washington D.C. - Today, the Immigration Policy Center releases Investing in the American Dream: The DREAM Act Would Allow Undocumented Youth to Give Back to America, a Perspectives piece by Dr. Roberto G. Gonzales, an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work. Dr. Gonzales has been conducting a four-and-a-half year study of undocumented immigrant young adults in Los Angeles and a companion study in Seattle.
Dr. Gonzales writes:
"Undocumented immigrant youth - those who migrate at early ages and reside in the United States without legal permission - confront a troubling mix of circumstances. At some point during their adult lives, doors stop opening altogether for undocumented youth. Whether it is a series of blocked opportunities within the labor market or the end of educational opportunities, there comes a time when these young men and women run out of options. These moments contradict all that these young people have been taught in school, and send the message that their dreams will not be realized and that all of their hard work was in vain.
In most respects, these young people are already important members of U.S. society. After having been educated in our schools, they envision their futures here, and powerfully internalize American values and expectations of merit. Paradoxically, their efforts to adapt and contribute economically are met with legal obstacles. Rather than valuing them as important societal resources, current policies restrict their options and curb the transformative potential they have in their communities. Without full legal rights, they are barred from the very mechanisms that have ensured high levels of economic and social mobility to other immigrants throughout U.S. history.
This also means there is significant lost potential for the U.S. Without the incentive and means to continue their education, undocumented youth are not continuing their education, and the U.S. is losing out on their productivity, entrepreneurship, and creativity, as well as tax revenue from their potentially higher earnings."
To read the Perspectives piece in its entirety see:
Investing in the American Dream: The DREAM Act Would Allow Undocumented Youth to Give Back to America (IPC Perspectives, December 2, 2010)