In Their Own Words: The Dream.US National Survey
October 25, 2018
A new national survey reflecting the views and voices of over 1,400 student scholars enrolled at community colleges and universities that partner with TheDream.US shows the significant educational and employment gains they have achieved, but at the same time reveals the daily struggles as well as the “uncertainty and anxiety that Scholars face in a difficult immigration climate, particularly with the forthcoming end of DACA and TPS.” The Dream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program to support Dreamers, offers scholarships to undocumented immigrant students who currently hold or are eligible to receive DACA or TPS. The online survey was conducted in April 2018.
Key findings from the TheDream.US report, In Their Own Words: Higher Education, DACA and TPS, include:
Importance of professional careers:
- Nearly all Scholars (97%) indicated that obtaining a college degree was extremely or very important to them, with two-thirds (66%) pursuing a career that requires professional licensing, including medical, legal and engineering careers. Yet, currently in most states, DACA recipients or undocumented students are not eligible to apply for professional licensing.
- Seventy-one percent of Scholars were employed; of those, one in five Scholars (19%) held two or more jobs and nearly one third (29%) worked full time. Over one third of Scholars (34%) provided some sort of financial support to their families.
Anxieties over potential loss of immigration status: With the uncertainties and legal challenges surrounding the DACA and TPS programs, many student Scholars expressed a range of fears and anxieties due to the potential loss of their immigration status, including the loss of employment, childcare, food security, access and ability to pay for education, and access to driver’s licenses:
- Four out of five students (83%) students described themselves as “very anxious” about their immigration status; with a similar percentage (86%) expressing concern for the legal status of their family.
- Fears regarding the loss of employment stemming from the loss of status was one of the most common comments provided by Scholars.
- While obtaining a college degree is a critical goal for the overwhelming majority of the Scholars surveyed, many shared concerns that loss of status would force them to pay out-of-state tuition for their education, making higher education financially inaccessible.
- Over half (52%) of Scholars who report having a child said loss of status would affect their access to childcare.
- Almost half (43%) of all Scholars experienced food insecurity in the last year, with nearly three out of five (58%) indicating they would likely experience food insecurity if they lost their immigration status.
- Many Scholars (69%) hold driver’s license and over half (55%) regularly drive to and from school and work. The report notes, “while traditionally not considered an education issue, for many immigrant students, a driver’s license is an integral tool to assist them in the educational context.” DACA and TPS recipients are eligible for driver’s licenses in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Without DACA, many Dreamers would lose their access to driver’s licenses.
Scholars shared that loss of status would lead to “fear of not being able to continue getting an education. The fear of not being able to dream anymore.” Many Scholars said they were accelerating their graduation date and increasing their course load–often to the detriment of their studies–in order to obtain their degree before a potential loss of status. Another Scholar spoke to the importance of their degree in relation to family, “with a degree, not only would I be able to improve my lifestyle but the lifestyle of my family as well. Without this degree, all the hard work I have put into my goals would be for nothing, and I would be back to the bottom where I started.”
One Scholar, part of a family with several DACA recipients, stated: “My siblings are also DACA recipients, and without our supplemental income, our household will struggle immensely financially. In addition, I personally pay for many school related expenses, such as gas, meals, and supplies.”
The intense anxieties expressed by Scholars align with the academic research regarding the mental health impact of the threat of deportation, with one Scholar noting, “It just creates an air of constant fear and being on edge.” Another Scholar shared, “I’ve been in the [United States] for so long that I think my life may fall apart. I don’t have a home to go back to, both parents are deceased. My mental health is falling apart. Everything is just sad.”
A large number of Scholars are studying to become nurses and expressed worry regarding the ability to enter their desired career path due to licensing concerns. A scholar seeking to become a lawyer stated, “I am afraid [of being unable to] achieve my goal of becoming a lawyer.”
Due to their immigration status, Dreamers are ineligible for Pell Grants, federal education loans, or work-study programs; have limited access to state aid; and, in many states, are subject to out-of-state tuition. In response to the findings, the report offers recommendations for federal and state policy makers; colleges and universities; mental health providers; employers; and community members:
Federal level: The Administration should fully reinstate DACA and work with Congress to establish a roadmap to citizenship for students. Congress should enact legislation to provide permanent protection for DREAMers and TPS recipients; restore the ability of states to offer in-state tuition based on residency; repeal the federal prohibition on professional licenses for immigrants; and extend access to federal financial aid to immigrant students, including Title IV assistance.
State level: Although state governments regulate professional licenses through state licensing boards, under federal law, professional licenses cannot be extended to undocumented immigrants unless states affirmatively opt out of the federal restrictions by enacting legislation to provide for eligibility. The report recommends that state legislatures should do so by passing laws to allow non-citizens to apply for and receive professional licenses. The report also recommends that states enact legislation to allow non-citzens to apply for and receive driver’s licenses; as well as in-state tuition, state and institutional financial aid, and scholarships. Currently, only five states have enacted laws making it easier for non-citizens to obtain professional, commercial, or business licenses. Twelve states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Twenty states offer in-state tuition; while as of June 2018, nine states offered state financial aid to undocumented students.
Colleges and universities should take several steps, including:
- Establish Dream Resource Centers or designate staff to provide services and support to undocumented students, such as information to help students access nutrition, health care, employment, and immigration resources.
- Expand financial and career support and services; conduct comprehensive reviews of institutional aid and other services, such as campus employment positions, to increase accessibility for undocumented students; offer career counseling and mentoring opportunities for immigrant students in tandem with college-wide career fairs.
- Expand access to their graduate and professional schools; establish policies that treat graduate students as domestic students (and not international students) for the purposes of tuition, financial aid, and scholarships.
Mental health providers should offer counseling to all individuals–regardless of immigration status–to encourage undocumented individuals and individuals from mixed-status families to seek mental health counseling; engage in training to better understand the consequences (and associated anxieties) that a loss of status has on the mental health of students; and offer culturally appropriate therapy and counseling to immigrant students.
Employers should explore strategies to continue to hire DACA recipients, such as independent contracting agreements and temporary contracts.
Community members should meet, listen, and learn from immigrant communities to better understand their struggles and how community members can provide support; share community resources, such as those available at Informed Immigrant.
Colleges and Communities Come Together to Support Dreamers
by Jill Casner-Lotto
February 6, 2018
As Congress and the White House debate the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and Dream Act legislation, community colleges across the country are stepping up their initiatives to support and protect Dreamers, including creation of “safe zones” and Dreamer Resource Centers; community partnerships to provide vital legal, financial, and mental health resources; and assistance in navigating career pathways and accelerating degree completion.
Portland Community College, for example, recently opened its new DREAM Center, a student-led effort and the first center of its kind at an Oregon community college or university. The resource center will offer outreach, education, advocacy and community resources, and funding for urgent services for undocumented and DACA students and their families.
CCCIE has queried its member colleges to learn how immigration policies are impacting life on campus and the proactive steps colleges, communities, and students are taking in response to challenges.
We shared these best practices with college presidents attending the fall 2017 meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges’ Commission on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity:
- Resolutions issued by college presidents and trustees reaffirming diversity and inclusiveness as core values and the college’s commitment to supporting all immigrant students, including DACA and undocumented students
- Policies to protect students in the event of Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials coming on campus
- Creation of “safe zones” and Dreamer Resource Centers; posting FAQs and connection to resources, such as “Know Your Rights” flyers
- Information sessions, counseling, and pro bono legal clinics offered in collaboration with community partners
- Advocacy in support of DACA and bipartisan Dream Act
- Training for counselors, staff, and faculty to become trusted allies and knowledgeable about best resources for Dreamers
- Scholarships, including emergency funds, for immigrant students regardless of status.
- Curriculum and assistance in accessing career pathways and accelerating degree completion
Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Director of Upskilling Policy, National Skills Coalition, also provided an overview of DACA and Dream Act legislation and the implications for community colleges, as well as Dreamers’ access to skills and career opportunities. Download this three-pager that highlights the activities of several of our member colleges and includes key contacts for further information.
Commitment to DACA and Undocumented Students Is Prominent on College Websites
Given the current political climate, colleges are increasingly providing centralized legal, financial aid, and other resources to support a safe and welcoming learning environment for Dreamers. Several community colleges have made their commitment to DACA and undocumented students especially prominent on their websites. Commitment could be expressed through a President’s or Board of Trustee statement and links to a DACA/Undocumented Students page which provides legal, counseling, financial aid, and other community resources, as well as news/legislative updates, and information on state and federal immigration policies. A few examples include: Alamo Colleges District, City Colleges of Chicago, Dutchess Community College, and LaGuardia Community College. The State University of New York system (which includes both two-year and four-year colleges) provides a good example of how a state system is promoting safe environments and supportive communities on its 64 campuses. SUNY encourages undocumented students to embrace their identity and are told: “Do not let fear about your immigration status stand in your way. SUNY will understand your situation and value your perspective and worldview. Use your application as an opportunity to talk about your life in America and how you’ve contributed to your community.” The site provides various legal and financial aid resources, FAQs for Undocumented Students, and FAQs on Immigration Policy.
Here we take an in-depth look at how one of our Blue Ribbon Panel member colleges, the Alamo Colleges District, supports both DACA-mented and undocumented immigrant students:
Alamo Colleges District
The Board of Trustees at the Alamo Colleges District, which includes five community colleges located across the San Antonio, TX metropolitan area, has issued a Resolution in Support for the Educational Success of Undocumented Student DREAMers. At the request of Chancellor Bruce Leslie, the DREAMers Advisory Council was formed, a district-wide, cross-departmental committee comprised of administrators, staff, and faculty to coordinate campus resources and elevate the college’s message of support. The Resolution, passed in March 2017, was sent out to students, faculty and staff, as well as a letter to legislators across the state. Carmen De Luna Jones, director of Alamo’s Brackenridge (eastside) and Harlandale (southside) Education & Training Centers, also leads the Council and serves as the district’s point of contact for serving immigrant students. “In addition to recognizing that the educational goals of DREAMers are aligned with Alamo Colleges’ values of students first, respect for all and community engaged, the resolution explicitly links the educational success of DREAMers to the colleges’ completion goals as stated in the Texas Higher Education Plan,” De Luna Jones explained.
Clear ICE protocols in response to anti-immigrant legislation
The ACD resolution also notes the board’s opposition to any state or federal legislation that would be detrimental to undocumented student DREAMers’s educational success. The passage of Senate Bill 4 in the Texas legislature has created anxiety and fear among the immigrant community, including students on college campuses. SB 4 bars local agencies from adopting any policy that might stand in the way of the enforcement of federal immigration laws and makes local officials criminally liable and subject to removal from office if they refuse to cooperate.
“Recently one of our DREAMers Advisory Council members shared with us that they were seeing a decline in ESL class enrollments at some of Alamo Colleges and they were attributing that to students being afraid of getting detained by federal authorities,” notes De Luna Jones. One of the first steps taken by the Dreamers Advisory Council, which also includes the Alamo Colleges Chief of Police, was establishing a clear campus protocol if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials show up on campus. “SB 4 puts the local police and campus police in a difficult situation, because if they do not cooperate they could lose their job,” according to De Luna Jones. “We have created clear procedures with regard to ICE: if a federal agent with a detainer warrant were to come to campus, we channel them to the district’s legal services department. We sent out those procedures campus wide so everybody knows where our administration stands on this issue and the measures put in place,” according to De Luna Jones.
A DREAMer Resource Web Page
ACD has also created a centralized web page for immigrant students, including both DACA and undocumented students, which includes a link to the board’s resolution and prominently displays its support for DREAMers and urges passage of the Dream Act in a Letter to Congress and President Trump. This comprehensive web site features updated information on DACA, FAQs, and connection to local and national resources, including legal assistance, scholarships, and community initiatives to protect Texas immigrants and their families in light of SB4. Upcoming events, such as DACA renewal clinics and scholarship workshops, are publicized, and contact information for each of the colleges’ counseling offices and DREAMers Advisory Council members are provided.
For the third year, two ACD colleges–San Antonio College and Palo Alto College–have partnered with TheDream.US to provide much-needed scholarship funds for DREAMers. TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for DREAMers, which provides much-needed scholarship funds for highly motivated DACA-eligible and DACA-mented students. The district also launched a giving campaign with United Way that allows Alamo employees to make donations for student scholarships. As part of that campaign, monies have been earmarked for undocumented students.
Encouraging Dual Credit/Early College/High School
The district’s community education and training centers actively encourage prospective DACA and undocumented students and their younger siblings to apply to its dual credit and early college/high school programs, as a way to graduate from high school with an associate degree or a vocational certificate at no cost or minimal cost to the student. If the Dream Act passes, students would be positioned for a pathway to citizenship, since one of the criteria is to be enrolled in an educational program, whether leading to a degree or workplace credential. College officials have reached out and work closely with school principals, counselors, teachers, students and families to promote dual credit/early college programs as an opportunity for all students including undocumented high school students.
Promoting College and Career Pathways
The goal of most DREAMers enrolled at Alamo Colleges is to continue to four-year colleges, so students are closely aligned with degree programs and assigned an academic advisor who keeps close track of their progress and follows up if there are any noticeable breaks in attendance. Alamo advisors also maintain close alliances with university academic and financial aid advisors to get students to the next level. IME BECAS Grant funds have enabled about 60 undocumented students to attend college and enter nursing, biology, education, and criminal justice fields. Many Alamo Colleges graduates have transferred to the University of Texas at San Antonio, which recently opened a new Dreamers Resource Center providing legal, financial, and emotional support for undocumented UTSA students.
While there are concerted efforts to transition DREAMers into college programs, their undocumented parents and other adult ESL learners are more interested in shorter-term career training programs. If students are covered under DACA, they are eligible to enter Alamo Colleges I-BEST training programs, which provides contextualized ESL and jobs skills training. If they lack DACA, they are encouraged to attend one of the college’s ESL programs offered throughout San Antonio or noncredit, short-term training programs offered through the district’s Workforce Training Network or with city and nonprofit programs such as Goodwill, which pay for training.
Extensive Community Collaboration, Training, and Outreach
Other examples of Alamo Colleges’ community outreach and training include:
- Enrollment drives and workshops for DREAMers and parents to help them apply for state aid and scholarships.
- DACA information/renewal sessions and legal clinics held in various parts of the San Antonio metropolitan area and organized with a network of community partners, including the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Educational and Legal Services, Mi Familia Vota, American Gateways, and Catholic Charities.
- Coordinated through the DREAMers Advisory Council, representatives from Alamo Colleges’ various community outreach centers provide professional development to academic advisors and financial aid counselors at the five college campuses.
- Training sessions are also held for counselors in school districts on various ways they can assist undocumented students, including workshops on Know Your Rights, DACA, and state aid eligibility. Financial Aid Summits led by ACD financial aid team members help counselors and advisors better serve students and parents with financial aid processing.
Alamo Colleges’ success in all of these initiatives requires partnerships at various levels, notes De Luna Jones. “This is not about keeping students ‘in line.’ It’s about connecting them with the right people at every point in their college experience. When we know a student is coming from an immigrant community, we develop close relations with those students, their parents, and everyone else they may come in contact with. This is truly a collaborative effort.”
Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.–Pass Dream Act Now and Advising DACA Youth
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to honor and work toward Dr. King’s dream of justice and equality for all. And, yet, today, after a breakdown in bipartisan talks last week threaten DreamAct legislation, the lives of 800,000 Dreamers hang in the balance. More than 14,000 Dreamers have lost their DACA status and are living in a state of fear and uncertainty. And every day that Congress fails to pass a clean #Dream Act, 122 young immigrants lose DACA and could be deported.
The latest update: In response to a federal judge’s order to restart the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would accept some renewal applications. While this development is a step forward and offers some individuals temporary protection, the Trump administration has vowed to take legal action to reverse the court ruling
We urge you to tell Congress: We must have a #DreamActNow and we offer you the “Top Five Things You Need to Know about USCIS & DACA Renewal,” issued by United We Dream and National Immigration Law Center, to help immigrant youth on your college campuses and in your communities make decisions related to the government’s recent announcement. Please share with your networks:
“Today U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it would resume accepting DACA renewal applications beginning January 13, 2018. This policy is in response to the January 9 court-ordered injunction that ordered the Trump Administration to accept DACA renewals. Until further notice, USCIS will accept DACA renewal applications. This is another victory on the path to winning a permanent solution for millions of immigrant youth, which is the Dream Act by January 19th. We will be updating you with more information as it becomes available, but here are our top 5 things to know:
- USCIS is now accepting certain DACA renewal applications. If your DACA expired on or after September 5, 2016, you may send USCIS DACA renewal applications. This means you must fill out the latest versions of Form I-821D, Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-765WS Worksheet. If your DACA expired before September 5, 2016, you must reapply through an initial application, not renew. Everyone must include the date your DACA expired or will expire on Part 1 of the Form I-821D.
- USCIS will not accept any first-time DACA applications. No new or first-time DACA applications will be accepted by USCIS. If you are eligible for DACA now but never applied, this announcement does not apply to you.
- Requests for advance parole from DACA recipients will not be accepted. USCIS will not accept or approve any advance parole requests. We recommend that you do not leave the country, even if you have been approved for advance parole in the past.
- We do not know how long USCIS will continue to accept DACA renewals. The Trump Administration stated that it plans to “vigorously” challenge the district court’s decision. This means that the window of time available for sending in your DACA renewal is uncertain. We recommend that if you fulfill the requirements outlined above, that you assess whether to apply immediately.
- Our fight to pass the Dream Act by January 19 continues! This is a testament to the work that undocumented youth have led to fight back against Trump’s decision to end DACA on September 5th. However, we can’t keep living our lives in chaos and at the whim of a racist administration. Our goal is clear: win the Dream Act by January 19th. Not all of us are protected by DACA, so our community remains at risk of detention and deportation until we win a permanent solution. Text DreamActNow to 877877 to learn how you can join us in pressuring Congress to stand on the right side of history and pass the Dream Act by January 19th!”
Please share with your networks and join this campaign!
Urge Congress to Pass the Dream Act Now
In light of the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, CCCIE stands ready to assist students and their families and ensure that all immigrant students, especially DACA and non-DACA undocumented youth, have full opportunities to pursue their educational and career goals.
Since 2012, DACA has protected nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, and call this country their home. The program has enabled immigrant youth to access higher education, work legally in the U.S., help support their families, and contribute to our communities and economy. Ending DACA turns back the clock, is an affront to American values of inclusiveness and compassion, and hurts the U.S. economy. We urge Congress to support a permanent legislative solution to protect Dreamers and pass the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017.
The Trump administration will wind down the DACA program over the next 6 months, as specified in a Department of Homeland Security memorandum. For those who currently have DACA, their DACA status and work permits will remain valid until the expiration date. While all pending applications for first-time issuance or renewals of DACA will be processed, no new DACA applications will be accepted after September 5. DACA recipients whose current two-year exemption ends between now and March 5, 2018 may apply for a two-year renewal by October 5, 2017. DACA recipients whose status ends after next March 5 will not be able to renew.
Community colleges are committed to serve a diverse student body and have traditionally served as the gateway into higher education for many undocumented students. DACA has not only removed the cloud of deportation, it has encouraged young Dreamers to further their education, improve their job prospects, and strengthen our workforce. New MPI research shows that work authorization has helped DACA recipients contribute beyond low-skilled sectors of the economy, rising into higher-paying office jobs. Ending DACA means that “many one-time DACA recipients working without authorization will grow the country’s underground economy-which undermines a level playing field for all workers-and may see their job progress stall or even reverse,” MPI notes.
Actions to Take, Resources to share
CCCIE will continue its work to support and protect Dreamers, and will work with immigrant youth and all our partners to urge Congress to act quickly to pass a Dream Act that will allow DACA recipients and other immigrant youth achieve their potential and contribute to our country and our communities.
- Use this advocacy tool provided by the American Association of Community College to voice your opposition to ending DACA and to urge your representatives to support the Dream Act.
- Attend one of many local events to support Dreamers and find the latest informational and advocacy resources at WeAreHereToStay.org, from United We Dream, National Immigration Law Center, and Educators for Fair Consideration, including Top 5 Things You Should Know, DACA Termination FAQs, DACA Rescission and Workplace Rights FAQs and an Emergency Mental Health Toolkit.
- Use UWD’s #HeretoStay Toolkit to create classroom and campus environments supportive of undocumented students.
- Find up-to-date information and resources on DACA, scholarships, education, internships, and financial and legal assistance at MyUndocumentedLife.org.
Defending DACA: Latest News, Advocacy, Resources, and Research
DACA is at risk. Ten states have threatened to sue the federal government if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is not abolished before September 5, 2017. The Trump Administration is expected to make an announcement this week on DACA, and there are reports that the administration is considering ending the program
Here are the latest updates and resources to help you advise and support your students, and actions to take to defend DACA:
Updates and Resources
DACA Update: Five Things You Should Know (United We Dream and National Immigration Law Center)
What Do I Need to Know if the DACA Program Ends? (Immigrant Legal Resource Center)
Elevating the Soul: Guidelines for Regeneration During Impact Moments (UndocuHealing Project)
Beyond Deferred Action: Long Term Immigration Remedies Every Undocumented Young Person Should Know About (Educators for Fair Consideration)
Call your representatives in Congress at 888-542-8298 and urge them to protect DACA and support the Bipartisan Dream Act of 2017.
Go to the Defend DACA website to join the National Day of Action on September 5th to Protect DACA & Immigrant Youth and find an event near you. Join the social media campaign #DefendDACA.
What’s At Stake
To date, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrant youth have been granted DACA status, which provides them with temporary relief from deportation and work authorization. The program has significantly increased opportunities for higher education and jobs and enabled individuals to contribute to their communities. An end to DACA would mean its recipients would be subject to deportation, and result in families being torn apart. According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, deporting those currently in DACA would cost over $60 billion in lost tax revenue and result in a $280 billion reduction in economic growth over the next decade.
Support from American Association of Community Colleges and Other Educational Leaders
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has joined with the American Council of Education and other education leaders in a letter to President Trump, urging him to support the Dreamers and preserve DACA: “These bright and talented young people are working, serving in the armed services or are studying at colleges and universities. Because they now have work permits, they are making contributions to our society and our economy. They are paying taxes and buying cars, homes, and consumer goods, which generates economic activity and increases tax revenue for federal, state and local government. . . .we urge you to continue your promise to support the Dreamers and preserve DACA while seeking a permanent solution, and allow these productive and high achieving individuals to continue to work, study and contribute to our great country.”
Opportunity knocks: How immigrant Dreamers can meet local businesses’ skill needs–National Skills Coalition new fact sheet includes federal and state policy recommendations that can strengthen connections to career pathways for U.S-born individuals as well as immigrants. “Policymakers and advocates should take action to ensure that Dreamers are able to access the education and training opportunities necessary to allow them to make their highest and best contributions to their communities,” NSC recommends.
The Education and Work Profiles of the DACA Population Migration Policy Institute’s new issue brief shows that three-quarters of the 1.2 million unauthorized immigrants over age 16 eligible for DACA were in the labor force, with 24 percent juggling both a job and college studies. “If DACA is terminated and recipients lose their employment authorization, most would be unable to continue working in white-collar occupations and would have fewer incentives or financial means to enroll in and complete college,” MPI researchers conclude.
New Bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 Would Offer Legal Status and Eventual Citizenship for Undocumented Youth
The recently announced bipartisan Dream Act of 2017, which would provide legal permanent residence and eventual citizenship to eligible undocumented youth who arrived in the U.S. as children, includes some new provisions especially relevant to the diverse immigrant student population at community colleges. Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bill on July 20, 2017.
Previous versions of the Dream Act, which have been proposed in Congress over the past 15 years, required immigrant youth to either complete at least two years of higher education or two years of military service in order to become eligible for legal permanent residency or (LPR) status. For the first time, this new bill provides a third pathway, continuous employment, to qualify for LPR status and also offers a hardship exemption for full-time caregivers of minor children who do not meet any of the educational, military, or work requirements. As part of the higher education pathway, the bill would also allow undocumented immigrants who earn certain middle skill-credentials to obtain legal status, according to the National Skills Coalition, which has long advocated for this provision.
Many immigrant students come from low-income backgrounds, must work to help support their families, or are parents providing care for their children. Many struggle to marshall the financial resources to pay for college and often times must interrupt their education in order to support their families. Those who arrive in this country with low levels of education and literacy skills must acquire a minimum level of English proficiency before acceptance into college-level programs. The addition of the bill’s new provisions means they would still have an opportunity to pursue their educational and career goals and get on a path to legalization and eventual citizenship. The new bill would also make it easier for states to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students on the basis of residency. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that as many as 1.5 million DREAMers could be granted legal status if the bill were enacted.
Provisions in the New Bill
In order to qualify for LPR status, individuals would have to first meet a range of initial criteria for conditional permanent residency or CPR status, including certain educational requirements. They would have to be enrolled in an institution of higher education, or have graduated from high school or obtained a high school equivalency diploma; or be enrolled in secondary school or in an education program assisting students in obtaining a high school diploma or in passing a GED or equivalent exam. CPR status would last for eight years and come with work authorization.
Individuals could then apply for LPR status provided they have met certain educational requirements including: completing at least 2 years of higher education; or working lawfully for at least 3 years, or serving for at least two years in the military. Individuals could receive a “hardship exception,” that would exempt them from meeting the higher education/continuous work/military service requirement if the person has a disability, or is a full-time caregiver of a minor child, or if the person’s removal from the U.S. would cause extreme hardship to the person or the person’s U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child.
Individuals would have to meet additional criteria, including but not limited to:
- Showing proficiency in the English language and knowledge of U.S. history;
- Passing security and law enforcement background checks, and paying a reasonable application fee; and
- Demonstrating that they haven’t committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to national security.
After maintaining LPR status for five years, individuals could then apply for citizenship.
New Emphasis on Middle-Skills Pathway
The Dream Act of 2017, with its inclusion of middle-skills credentials as a pathway to legal status, makes it “more responsive to modern labor market needs for middle-skill workers,” notes Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, Director of Upskilling Policy at National Skills Coalition. NSC’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data found a nationwide shortage of U.S. workers trained for middle-skills jobs, which require more than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree. NSC has published state-by-state fact sheets showing strong demand for middle-skills workers in all 50 states. “Immigrant Dreamers can play an important role in helping their states meet the demand for these workers,” according to Bergson-Shilcock.
Community colleges have traditionally served as the gateway for DREAMers, particularly those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that grants temporary protection from deportation and two-year, renewable work authorization. Research has shown that DACA has greatly improved educational and work opportunities for undocumented youth, with many DACA recipients enrolled in flexible, short-term certificate programs at community colleges, allowing them to work while pursuing their degrees and strengthening the economic base of their local communities.
DACA Recipients Would Receive Immediate Protection
This new bill comes at a critical time, as 10 states have threatened to sue the Trump Administration if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is not abolished before September 5, 2017. To date, nearly 800,000 unauthorized immigrant youth have been granted DACA status. Under the DREAM Act of 2017, the legal status of DACA recipients would automatically be changed to CPR status—unless they have engaged in conduct subsequent to receiving DACA that would make them ineligible.
MPI’s new fact sheet, Protecting the DREAM: The Potential Impact of Different Legislative Scenarios for Unauthorized Youth, examines the DREAM Act of 2017 proposed by Durbin and Graham as well as a House bill introduced in March by Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), the Recognizing America’s Children Act. MPI notes that “given the significant overlap in qualifying criteria between the DACA program and the pending House and Senate bills, the vast majority of current DACA recipients would be able to apply for conditional status under either version.”
However, the prospects for this bill’s passage are uncertain and various sources have reported that the President would likely oppose this new Dream Act if it reached his office. “If the administration elects not to defend the [DACA] program in court, which seems likely given it has proven controversial with the Trump base, DACA will end,” according to the Migration Policy Institute. United We Dream is urging collective action to protect DACA, including making calls to state Attorney Generals to ask for their public support for DACA, using social media #HeretoStay to share how DACA has helped immigrant youth, petitioning public officials to speak up on behalf of DACA, and participating in UWD’s national week of action in Washington, D.C., starting August 15. Learn more about UWD’s campaign to protect DACA.
Side by Side: Provisions of the 2010 and 2017 Dream Acts and DACA, National Immigration Law Center
Missing in Action: Job-Driven Educational Pathways for Unauthorized Youth and Adults, National Skills Coalition
A New Tool to Help People Understand Their Immigration Options
Immigration Advocates Network, a collaborative effort of leading nonprofit immigrants’ rights organizations, has created a new website to help people understand their immigration options and rights. It’s free for anyone to use, at www.immi.org / www.immi.org/es.
Here’s what “immi” has, in English and Spanish:
● An interview process to learn about the options, including ways to stay
● A Learning Center that explains the law, legal rights, and important words
● A legal directory to find legal help
Take the online interview
Individuals can answer questions online about their family, immigration history, and more. At the end of the interview, results are shared about an individual’s immigration options. The results include reasons a person might qualify for legal status, and questions or possible problems for their eligibility.
Visit the Learning Center
The Learning Center is an online library to learn about the law and individual rights. It has articles on ways people qualify for legal immigration status. There are articles about: know-your-rights, taking care of an immigration case, finding good legal help, and what to do in a raid or arrest. The Learning Center has a glossary for immigration law vocabulary.
If you need legal help
Immi’s legal help finder is a directory of nonprofit organizations that offer free or low-cost legal help. Individuals can find an immigration law expert near them, by entering their zip code or clicking on their state.
Finally, immi has stories about ways people qualify to stay in the U.S. They may find a story that matches their circumstances, and helps them to understand their immigration options. Take the first step, and find out more on www.immi.org.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program May Be Ended in the Trump Administration
President-Elect Donald J. Trump has said once he is in office he will end the DACA program, which allows undocumented immigrant youth temporary relief from deportation and the ability to work legally in the United States. DACA was implemented as an executive order in the the Obama administration in 2012. Over 740,000 unauthorized young people have received DACA since that time. According to the National UnDACAmented Research Project’s 2016 report, which was based on a national survey of nearly 2,700 DACA-eligible beneficiairies, many DACA recipients had obtained new jobs and internships, increased their earnings, and continued their education or accessed short-term certificate and job training programs.
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) have introduced legislation to temporarily protect young undocumented immigrant youth if DACA ends. Known as the BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy), the legislation would provide temporary relief from deportation as well as work authorization to young undocumented individuals who have received or are eligible for DACA. While the BRIDGE Act’s protections would be only temporary, it would allow DACA recipients to continue to work and study in the U.S. while Congress debates more comprehensive immigration reform.
Deadlocked Supreme Court Decision in United States vs. Texas Leaves in Place a Lower Court Ruling That Blocks DAPA/Expanded DACA
The Supreme Court’s June 23, 2016 4-4 split decision in United States v. Texas was a huge disappointment. It leaves in place a lower court ruling that blocks President Obama’s expanded deferred action plan to shield millions of immigrants from deportation and to allow them to work. And it’s a severe blow to the many families that could be contributing members of our communities but instead face the continued threat of being torn apart by deportation.
The two Obama administration initiatives announced in 2014–Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—would have impacted nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants, by allowing certain immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as other immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, to apply for temporary work authorization and protection from deportation.
While the Supreme Courts’ inaction represents a major setback, it calls attention to the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform from Congress. This current legal impasse also reminds us that, as educators, we must continue to do whatever we can to provide all possible resources through existing channels. The original 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, while not a permanent solution to our nation’s immigration problems, remains in force. DACA has offered hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth temporary protection from deportation and authorization to work, providing they meet several criteria. See resources and information on DACA below.
President Obama’s Directive on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to the Department of Homeland Security Allows Certain Unauthorized Immigrant Youth Temporary Relief from Deportation
Under the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Department of Homeland Security allows certain immigrant youth who came to the U.S. as children and meet age, educational, residency, and other requirements to apply for deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer deportation against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status. DACA does not apply to dependents (parents, siblings). They would have to qualify on their own as individuals.
More than 680,000 young people have received DACA. Researchers estimate that nearly 1.5 million undocumented youth in the U.S. are currently eligible for DACA, and another 400,000 children will become eligible in coming years.
Under DACA, young people will be able to seek temporary relief from deportation if they:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Came to the US before they turned 16
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
- Were present in the U.S. on June 15th, 2012 and at the time for making the request for deferred action with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:
- They never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or
- Any lawful immigration status or parole obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, earned a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military;
- Have no criminal history and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety
In 2012, when DACA was first announced, Janet Napolitano, who was Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security at the time, told immigration rights advocates and educators attending a White House Immigration Community Leader Briefing : “It makes no sense to expend our enforcement resources on these young people who were not culpable for being brought to this country and who have grown up here…I’ve met some of these students-we want their brains and talents here.”
CCCIE is pleased to share the following resources on how to support undocumented students, including those eligible for DACA, at your college. We welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DREAM Act Provisions of 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Provide a Five-Year Track to Citizenship for Eligible Undocumented Youth and Young Adults
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act refers to proposed federal legislation that would provide a path to legalization for eligible unauthorized youth and young adults. First introduced in 2001 by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), it has since been introduced regularly, both as a stand-alone bill and as part of comprehensive immigration reform bills in both the House and Senate. The most recent DREAM Act provision was incorporated as part of S. 744, the historic bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that passed the Senate on June 27, 2013.
The DREAM Act provisions in the Senate’s immigration reform bill would make some young people eligible for green cards and US citizenship after five years if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military, a much faster track to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship than any prior legislation. Unlike previous DREAM bills that restricted eligibility to those under the age of 30, this bipartisan legislation, introduced by the Senate’s “Gang of 8,” eliminated that age cap. The Senate bill would also change the rules that have limited DREAMers access to in-state tuition and college loans
- CCCIE, Review of Post-Election Resources to Support Undocumented Students: a concise one-pager with links to recent educational, career, and scholarship resources for students, educators, and counselors from Educators for Fair Consideration, National Immigration Law Center, United We Dream, and My Undocumented Life.
- CCCIE, 10 Things Educators Can Do to Help Undocumented and DACAmented Youth: a toolkit of resources and recommendations to help educators launch effective outreach campaigns and provide information to assist students.
- CCCIE: Dreaming Big: What Community Colleges Can Do to Help Undocumented Youth Achieve Their Potential, a report describing promising practices in five critical areas: increasing college access, making college affordable, supporting college readiness and success, offering alternatives for adult learners, and improving college retention and completion.
- United We Dream has created the National Institutions Coming Out Day Toolkit: Institutional Policies and Programs With and For Undocumented Students. Click here for more information. UWD’s DEEP program provides resources to engage immigrant students, parents, and educators and organize conferences to improve educational equity.
- U.S. Department of Education has released a comprehensive resource guide to help educators, school leaders and community organizations better support undocumented youth, including DACA recipients.
- National Immigration Law Center provides updated information and FAQs on DACA. See also information tracking state legislation that addresses financial aid and access to post-secondary education for immigrants.
- Educators for Fair Consideration provides continuously updated educational and career resources and a scholarship data base to help undocumented students pay for college. In addition, E4FC’s Case Analysis Service provides analysis of possible immigration remedies and benefits to undocumented students and those eligible for DACA.
- Migration Policy Institute provides extensive research on DACA and has a data tool and interactive map with estimates of unauthorized immigrant youth currently eligible for DACA, along with detailed sociodemographic profiles of unauthorized immigrants at the national level, by state, and for top counties.
- ImmigrationImpact.com, a project of the American Immigration Council, offers numerous articles and updates on the deferred action directive, as well as other immigration issues.
- College Board has created a Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students to help these students access higher education.
- Visit the ulead Network, an initiative of the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good and view a free webinar on providing holistic support for undocumented students, featuring CCCIE resources and best practices from CCCIE member City Colleges of Chicago, including CCC’s STAR scholarship program. See also their report, Reconciling Federal, State, and Institutional Policies Determining Educational Access for Undocumented Students: Implications for Professional Practice, which offers a comprehensive description of the characteristics of the undocumented population and their underrepresentation in higher education.
DREAM Act 2011 Legislative Update
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is proposed federal legislation that would provide a path to legalization for eligible unauthorized youth and young adults. First introduced in 2001 by Sen.Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen.Richard Durbin (D-IL), it has since been introduced regularly, both as a stand-alone bill and as part of comprehensive immigration reform bills in both the House and Senate. The latest version of the DREAM Act, was introduced on May 11, 2011, in the Senate (S. 952) by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 32 fellow senators, and in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1842) by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard.
- “California Dream Act Offers Path to College for Undocumented Students”
Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act into law in October 2011. Undocumented students are now eligible for state college aid. See the article in the LA Times.
- “In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is preserved with California Supreme Court ruling”
California judges have ruled to uphold AB 540, a state law extending tuition relief to undocumented students. This ruling represents a success for students and education advocates to expand educational opportunities and to work towards overall immigrant community advancement and integration. For more information, read more and see reaction from the National Immigration Law Center.
- “In Historic Move, Senators Durbin and Lugar Call on DHS to Protect Immigrant Youth”
This news release from America’s Voice, a nonprofit that works to build public and political support for immigration reform, describes a bi-partisan effort toprevent the deportation of immigrant youth who would be eligible for the DREAM Act. According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, this initiative “is a significant new development in the ongoing immigration reform debate. This is the first time a bipartisan duo of leading lawmakers has made such a request, and it is a harbinger of things to come….” Read more
- “New Immigration Reform Bill Could Help Undocumented Students”
A Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the recent legislation, introduced by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois, that would create a path to legal residency and citizenship for some undocumented students. Mr. Gutierrez’s bill, called the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act, includes some provisions from the original DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act), , but has expanded or changed some of the original DREAM Act provisions. This new bill adds employment as a pathway for high school students to gain permanent residency, while the original bill provides two years of college or military service as the only routes to permanent residency. Read more
- “President Obama Links Immigration Overhaul in 2010 to G.O.P. Backing.”
This New York Times article assesses the political climate in Washington for an overhaul of the immigration system and discusses the bill being shaped by Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Meanwhile, young immigrants, including undocumented students, rallied in several cities for immigration reform. Read more
- “Struggling with the Status of Undocumented Students”
States are unsure of what to do about the issue of undocumented students. This article, featured in The Community College Times, a publication of the American Association of Community Colleges, presents an overview of how some states address the issue and the potential impact of federal DREAM Act legislation. Also described are CCCIE’s initiatives to educate the public on the DREAM Act and the challenges community colleges face in meeting the educational needs of the immigrant population. Read more
- “AACC President Urges Congress to Revive the DREAM Act”
In a 2008 op-ed article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, AACC President and CEO Dr. George R. Boggs notes that passage of the DREAM Act would directly affect the nation’s economic competitiveness and urges college administrators, faculty members, and students to educate local business leaders about the importance of the DREAM Act in their communities. “While much of the business community supports comprehensive immigration reform and increases in the numbers of highly skilled foreign workers brought into the United States, it has remained largely silent on the DREAM Act,” according to Boggs. Read more