Opportunity for All: Illinois Tech President Advocates on Behalf of Dreamers in D.C.



To mark the 10th anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a press conference was held on Wednesday, June 15, in front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., at which Illinois Institute of Technology President Raj Echambadi delivered remarks about the importance of equitable access to higher education.

The press conference, which was held by a coalition of eight organizations, including the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, aimed to serve both as a celebration for the introduction of DACA, as well as an opportunity to call on Congress to pass comprehensive legislation to protect DACA recipients, often referred to as Dreamers. According to the ABIC, DACA has been a success, as it has unleashed the economic potential of nearly 800,000 people, allowing them to contribute to the U.S. economy, start families, buy homes, access health care, build businesses, and work in sectors where they’re needed most, with three-quarters of DACA participants being essential workers. The speakers celebrated DACA and Dreamers on Wednesday, but also made clear the need to provide Dreamers with permanent protections.

At the conference Echambadi spoke as a representative of the Presidents’ Alliance, where he highlighted the university’s role as an opportunity engine that provides every student, regardless of status, with the tools needed to find success—and the importance of doing so.

“It is my privilege to speak today as an international student here, as an immigrant, for whom America meant a beacon of opportunity, for whom America has been a magical place,” said Echambadi, who came to the U.S. as a graduate student from India. He added, “That is what I want for all of our undocumented students. Because when we are talking about the COVID pandemic, climate change, health care, jobs, of how the government serves the people, ensuring that all our students have access to affordable, quality higher education and opportunities is absolutely the [path] to a better future.”

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) was among the other speakers at the event, which also included multiple U.S. senators and members of Congress, national business and education leaders, immigrant advocates, and multiple Dreamers.

In addition to ABIC—which includes Illinois Tech University Regent John W. Rowe as a co-founder and board member and University Regent Craig Duchossois as a board member—and the Presidents’ Alliance, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, TheDream.US, FWD.us, National Immigration Law Center, Pre-Health Dreamers, and United We Dream have come together for form the coalition that helped organize the event on Wednesday.

To learn more, visit the ABIC website.