Opportunity and Action are the Focus of the State of the Union

January 30, 2014

By Katie O'Connell

In his State of the Union address, President Obama declared 2014 as a “year of action,” and reminded Congress that “…what most Americans want [is] for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations.” He shone a light on education by noting the importance of “….preparing tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education;” and he again asked Congress to take up commonsense immigration reform as he explained:

“When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.”

Despite the President’s calls for action, it is increasingly clear that the responsibility for action does not lie solely with Congress – it is, and has always been, the responsibility of each and every one of us. When NAFSA leaders were in Washington, D.C. last week, guest speaker and expert in citizen empowerment and transformation, Sam Daley-Harris, quoted Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart, “We aren’t passengers on Spaceship Earth, we’re the crew. We aren’t residents of this planet, we’re citizens. The difference in both cases is responsibility.” Our responsibility is to be the voice for international education, so let’s make this year our year of action.

According to NAFSA’s most recent economic study, international students and their families contribute $24 billion to the U.S. economy and create or support 313,000 jobs. Without reform, the United States risks losing the economic, academic, and cultural contributions from these globally mobile students as they turn to other countries with friendlier immigration policies. That is one of the reasons why NAFSA, like the President, is urging Congress to act swiftly to enact commonsense immigration legislation. Our country needs reform that expands our ability to attract the world’s most talented students and scholars to our colleges and universities, strengthens our economy, and reclaims the values that make this nation a land of opportunity, equality, and freedom for all. (Find a full list of NAFSA’s immigration priorities at www.nafsa.org/113thcongress). We need your help with this effort. Please email your representative about why immigration reform is important to you. A letter is drafted and ready for you to personalize on Connecting Our World.

Together, we can make 2014 a year of not only opportunity, but meaningful action and progress, on immigration reform and international education.


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