Penn President Amy Gutmann: Immigration Day of Action

Dear Friends,

Today, I join with higher education leaders across America in support of an Immigration Day of Action. Colleges and·universities are gateways to richly fulfilled lives as well as engines for our nation's economic and cultural growth. We are at our best when our academic communities embrace the most talented people from around the world. The United States of America is at its best when it does the same. This truth is encoded in our national DNA -- from our earliest days, we have always been a nation built and made strong by immigrants.

But in more recent days, a counter-truth has become painfully clear: our nation's immigration system is broken. President Obama and Congress tend to agree on this fact, but bipartisan support of comprehensive immigration reform remains elusive. This must change. We must increase access to American opportunity for talented international students, not diminish it. The best and brightest students who finish their studies at U.S. institutions  are ideally positioned to launch new businesses, spark innovation in critical STEM fields, and enrich our cultural and artistic landscape. They are a precious national resource, and we should make every effort to keep them here.

At Penn, we also are strongly committed to reform on behalf of undocumented youth. Every year, some 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school in the U.S.  These students are first-generation immigrants who were largely raised here and think of this nation  as home. It is an educational and economic imperative that we build an expedited path to citizenship -- such as the DREAM Act -- for these Americans, who are in an untenable circumstance through no fault of their own.

On behalf of the Penn community, I join my fellow college and university leaders in calling on Congress to mend this broken system. I applaud the bipartisan Gang of 8, led by Senators Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio, as they continue working toward comprehensive immigration reform. More must  be  done  and  swiftly. This pressing national need is the perfect opportunity for a classic bold political compromise that will get this country back on track with respect for its oldest and richest resource -- its people. This grand American experiment has always benefited from a constant inflow of fresh ideas and perspectives, new ways of doing and seeing. We cannot afford to -- and we must not­ -- stem that tide now.


Amy Gutmann


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