NAFSA Celebrates Senate Passage of Immigration Bill

Jun 27, 2013, 17:40 ET from NAFSA: Association of International Educators

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NAFSA: Association of International Educators today released the following statement in response to the Senate passage of S.744:

NAFSA: Association of International Educators joins the many organizations that are working tirelessly for immigration reform in celebrating today's strong bipartisan vote by the Senate for a commonsense immigration process that works for all of us. S.744, as passed by the Senate, will make the United States stronger, safer, more competitive, and more just.

Marlene M. Johnson, NAFSA's Executive Director and CEO, congratulated the Senate, saying "We won two victories today, and each is enormously significant for our country. First, we won immigration reform in the Senate, an objective that has eluded previous Congresses in this century. We have taken the crucial first step toward creating a way for millions of aspiring Americans to make this their legal home and become fully contributing citizens of this nation. Second, we have demonstrated that it is still possible for policymakers to come together in a bipartisan way and act constructively in the national interest when the stakes are highest. We congratulate the Senate, and particularly the Gang of Eight and Chairman Leahy, on these two victories, which we hope portend others to come."

The bill contains several provisions that are important not just for the country at large, but particularly for students and for higher education. The bill updates the immigration system to reflect the modern age of global mobility in higher education. It makes it easier for students from abroad to come to America and easier for universities to compete for them. We strongly support the expedited path to citizenship this bill creates for young people brought to the United States as children, and we applaud the various measures that would free up green cards so that talented individuals, including foreign students, can make homes in America, start businesses, create jobs, and help drive the country's economic growth. The H-1B provisions in the bill permit the U.S. higher education community to bring many of the best minds from across the world to our campuses to teach our students and conduct critical research. We also support dual intent for foreign students and the restoration of the Secretary of State's authority to waive personal appearance for visa applicants that present no security concerns. These measures, along with others, will help foster the academic and scholarly mobility that helps keep today's colleges and universities competitive and that helps the United States make friends in the world.

The House of Representatives now has no excuse for not taking up this important legislation.  "International educators expect Congress to act, and they will be communicating this expectation to their representatives in the coming days," Johnson said.

NAFSA congratulates its colleague organizations in the Alliance for Citizenship for their leadership and effective work to make this day possible, and applauds the courage of immigrants who faced personal risks to demonstrate for immigration. "This important milestone on the path toward a more fair, humane and sensible immigration process is the result of the hard work of hundreds of thousands of individual advocates, including international educators, who understand that this debate is about America's shared future and who want to reclaim the values that make this nation a land of equality, opportunity and freedom," said Fanta Aw, President and Chair of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

SOURCE NAFSA: Association of International Educators