Policymakers in Washington, DC, and in the states have put forward proposals to make it easier for immigrants to fully contribute to the economy. Most federal immigration policy proposals -- whether administrative or congressional -- require immigrant applicants to attain credentials, thus facilitating their full economic integration. These educational requirements -- if supported by adequate policy infrastructure and investments -- increase the likelihood of positive economic outcomes for individual immigrants and our economy as a whole. It is well-documented that higher levels of education are associated with higher earnings and economic productivity. But some of these credential requirements have not lined up with what the labor market actually demands, and to date, no policy has included the investments or infrastructure needed to support job-driven educational pathways for unauthorized youth and adults.
Reflecting on the DREAM Act, DAPA, and DACA today creates an opportunity to ensure that the current lack of access to job-driven educational pathways does not become a barrier to citizenship in the future when comprehensive immigration reform comes to pass.