In an important symbolic victory, the Senate voted 84-15 yesterday to move forward on S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” the commonsense immigration bill being debated in the Senate now. Over the next three weeks as the Senate debates and amends the bill, we need to let senators know there is strong public support for a “yes” vote when it matters on final passage.

This is our chance to get changes to current U.S. immigration law in order to improve our ability to recruit, integrate, and graduate the best and the brightest international students. We are the voice of the global education community and it is critical that we speak out and drown out the negative voices. No one knows this better than NAFSA’s 2013 Advocate of the Year Ken Reade. Reade is associate director of the Office of Visa and Immigration Services at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire made news this week as she stepped forward and publicly endorsed the Senate immigration bill.

“I think that Senator Ayotte’s position has recaptured the positive momentum of the legislation,” said Ken Reade. “It’s a well-timed positive development at a moment where the debate needed a shot in the arm.”

Senator Ayotte’s announcement comes at the end of Reade’s year-long participation in NAFSA’s Grassroots Leadership Program. Reade is one of eight NAFSA members in the program who are from battleground states that are home to members of Congress who are influential on immigration policy. He has been working with his elected officials, news media and Dartmouth faculty and leadership to build support for a new immigration process in the United States.

“Senator Ayotte’s office has been extremely accessible and knowledgeable,” says Reade. “One of her staffers has even presented at NAFSA regional conferences.”

Next week, a new cohort of eight NAFSA members will begin their own intensive organizing campaigns as part of NAFSA’s Grassroots Leadership Program. But they can’t do it alone. For more Senators to step forward and endorse the bill, they need to hear loud and public support from the deep and diverse immigration coalition fighting for commonsense reform. Can you help us do that?

Call (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the offices of your Senators and deliver the following message: “I support a commonsense immigration process and I hope I can count on the Senator to vote in favor of this historic legislation which makes the United States stronger, safer, more competitive, and more just.”

You can also sign our petition at, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ll deliver the signatures to your elected officials. Follow @ConnectOurWorld for advocacy alerts and updates on the state-of-play of immigration legislation in Congress.

Let us know what kind of response you get from your calls, posts, and tweets!