Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Step Towards Immigration Reform - Higher Education for Undocumented Students

WOW. This is crazy. From the United States Student Association's DREAM Act summary:

Even though [undocumented students] were brought to the U.S. as children, they face unique barriers to higher education. For example, even if they are able to enroll in college, undocumented students pay out-of-state tuition rates in most of their home states. Undocumented students are also unable to receive state financial aid in most states and are ineligible for federal loans or other federal aid. On top of the circumstances that make college much less affordable for undocumented students, their respective status also prevents them from legally working to pay for college. Their lack of proper documentation, such as a driver's license or even a social security number, can hinder them from filling out college and job applications.

The United States Student Association just wrapped up their annual Grassroots Legislative Conference and National Student Lobby Day in Washington, DC where students rallied on Capitol Hill to demand that higher education in our nation must be affordable and accessible to all.

On May 22 USSA, with support from the AFL-CIO, NEA, AFT, organized a press conference to announce the labor movement's support for the DREAM Act, as part of an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Check out some moving footage from the press conference, held at the AFL-CIO Headquarters -

Support the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act would:
* Repeal a measure that financially penalizes states for providing in-state tuition to their resident undocumented students, allowing more states to make college more affordable.

* Make students eligible for federal loans and work study upon adjustment of their legal status.

* Provide a pathway to citizenship by giving students conditional legal status for 6 years. Legal status becomes permanent once 1 of the following requirements is met:
- Receive a 2 or 4 year degree from a higher education institution, or must have maintained good academic standing for at least 2 years while wokring towards a bachelors degree or highers.
- Serve in the U.S. military for 2 years.

To find out how you can help, go here.

photo: Maria (on right) and her sister

This subject matters to me because in early 2006 I interned for US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Democratic Communications Center, located in the US Capitol Building. (Yeah, sweet spot!) One of my fellow interns was Maria Parra-Sandoval, then a top student at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. While I knew that Maria was not a US citizen and that she had entered the US illegally when she was little, Maria never talked about these financial barriers to higher education.

This is craziness. I don't know what else to say.

PS - I just googled Maria, and found this 2008 article indicating that she's now a US citizen:)

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