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Tech Leaders Support DREAM Act, Undocumented Students

Credit: Flickr/DreamActivistWhile there's zero chance of Congress approving the Dream Act any time soon, some progress is still being made for undocumented students who, having grown up in the US and excelled in school, cannot make it into college or the labor market because of their immigration status.

A case that stands out is that of a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have provided funds to support the efforts of organizations that help undocumented youth attend college, and gain qualifications in the labor market that could lead them to a solution to their immigration situation.

A recent Wall Street Journal reported on the work of some of these 'tech titans' including Jeff Hawkins, inventor of the Palm Pilot, Mark Leslie, founder of the former Veritas Software, Andrew Grove, co-founder of Intel, and Laurene Powell Jobs the widow of Steve Jobs.    

Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Jobs explained that “Congress inaction… is devastating for these students and tragic for the country.” Jobs has a history of working working with low-income students, many of whom are undocumented. In recent years, she has become an outspoken advocate of the Dream Act.

Eva Grove, wife of Intel’s co-founder, argued that since the US invests in undocumented student's throughout their K-12 public education -- see the Supreme Court ruling in Plyler v. Doe -- “it makes no sense to dead-end them” afterward. Grove's family foundation has given $1 million dollars to immigration-related groups.

Hopefully, these efforts are mimicked and magnified by other business leaders as well as other local, state, and national institutions. States with large immigrant populations like California, Illinois, and New York have taken a first step by passing, or starting the process of passing, their own Dream Act. These states realize that the costs of supporting undocumented students are relatively small compared with the societal gains.

Already it will take a nation-wide effort to incorporate the undocumented population that, like it or not, have settled in the US for good and become a crucial part of its future. So it is comforting to know that some of our business leaders are starting the work now, especially in the face of a highly volatile anti-immigrant discourse that makes the task of integrating undocumented immigrants all the more daunting.