Every company wants employees who arrive brimming over with motivation—who want to do a great job and to succeed and in time advance. I now know thousands of such young people. And to add to their value, if you give them a chance and treat them well, they’ll be among the most loyal people you ever hired.
Seven years ago, along with two business-executive friends, I co-founded TheDream.US, a scholarship program for “The Dreamers,” the young people, then 800,000 strong, who had received DACA status from the United States government. DACA, created by President Barack Obama in 2012, offered certain young immigrants DREAMers a renewable status that provide two years’ freedom from deportation and a temporary work permit and social security number. They had to be students in US high schools, graduates of those high schools or GED holders; they could not have been convicted of a felony or three significant misdemeanors (one DWI and you’re out); and they had to have arrived in the US before June, 2007.
These were significant benefits for young people from immigrant families who had come to the US as young children (the average of our 6,000 scholars came as a four-year-old). It gave these Dreamers, as they became known, the chance to work and to drive a car. It was a bargain for the US, which gained 800,000 workers at no cost in federal benefits (in fact the applicants paid $495 to apply and to renew their DACA status every two years).
TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, having provided more than 5,000 college scholarships to DREAMers at more than 70 partner colleges in 16 states and Washington, DC. We believe that all young Americans, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to get a college education and pursue a meaningful career that contributes to our country’s prosperity.