I did not watch the first part of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address a few hours ago, but while reading the full transcript, I caught glimpse of these paragraphs in a speech written to direct the country’s attention to the prospects of innovation, change, evolution and industry from educated immigrants:
“One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.”
“Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.”
My interest here is not the case of children of illegal immigrants even though he has a point there as well. It is in the sense in making it easy for immigrants who come from abroad to study in American colleges to be able to integrate, if they so wish, and contribute to the country in professional capacities. The situation at the moment is far from ideal. In a world where innovation is fueled by ideas and commitment rather than just geographical boundaries, it’s hard not to see the President’s point. One could only hope that his aspirations are shared by more of his conservative countrymen.