The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation released a three-volume study about the impact of the immigrant population in Arkansas Tuesday, Jan. 8, at a press conference held at the Arkansas State Capitol.
Following the press conference, Chancellor Joel E. Anderson joined a panel of experts at the Clinton School of Public Service to discuss the report which addresses demographic trends and the economic impact of the stateâ€™s immigrant population. The panel was moderated by Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
According to the report, Arkansas is ranked fourth in the nation in immigrant population growth. From 2000 to 2010 the foreign-born population increased by 82 percent and many of these families remain in the U.S. In 2010, 57 percent had lived in Arkansas (or elsewhere in the U.S.) for 10 years or more.
Anderson addressed the future of higher education in Arkansas and the importance of increasing access to education to all families who reside in the state. Several attempts at the national level from both sides of the aisle to pass legislation regarding access to higher education for children of undocumented parents have not been successful. On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama announced action by the Department of Homeland Security that provides temporary relief to undocumented students who do not present a risk to national security or safety.
â€śThere is just a very great state interest in having a state population with more and more Â people who have a college education,â€ť said Anderson. â€śIn a world that now is categorized by a global economy, with people in Arkansas, wherever they are, competing with people halfway around the world – education becomes an important tool, qualification, or asset. The payoff that comes from having college-educated people is significant.â€ť
Anderson supported his statements with the following documented facts. Individuals who obtain a college degree:
- Earn higher incomes
- Pay higher taxes that support the common good
- Are less dependent on government and others for financial support
- Are better able to support their children and other family members
- Are more adaptable members of the workforce
- Are less likely to end up in prison
- Have better health and make fewer demands on the health care system
According to Chancellor Anderson at least a dozen other states have adopted legislation that would allow children of undocumented immigrants to attend public institutions of higher education at in-state rates.
â€śWe would be better off, all of us, if we made it possible for these children to enroll in much larger numbers in our colleges and universities,â€ť said Anderson.
The full report is available on the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation site.