In the United States, higher education is becoming increasingly expensive and has therefore created a market for scholarships and grants. Most of the time, the recipients of these awards are accepted and congratulated. However, there are those who protest when a grant or scholarship goes to an undocumented immigrant. Rights and privileges, such as higher education, they argue, should be reserved for citizens.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced into Congress in 2001; however, a version of it has never passed both houses. Too many lawmakers have decried it during its lifespan as an ‘amnesty’ and a ‘shield’ for gang members to avoid deportation. Its aim is to provide an avenue toward citizenship for young people who were brought to the U.S. as children when, it is implied, the choice to immigrate was not entirely their own.
One of the biggest bones of contention during floor debates on the bill was the question of tuition rates for undocumented immigrants. A major plank in the DREAM Act when created was to repeal Section 505 of the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) that banned undocumented immigrants from receiving in-state tuition at universities. It states that someone who is not lawfully present in the country is not eligible for in-state tuition based on residence unless a citizen may get the same benefit without regard to residency.
This requirement is one of the issues that caused debate to break down during Congress’s 2007-08 session, during which misconceptions were stated that insinuated that the Act mandated giving in-state tuition rates to the undocumented. This was never the case, but the bill was shelved due to the arguments.
The DREAM Act has been stalled in committee for quite some time. However, all is not lost; there is significant ground being gained.
The College Board estimates that only five to 10 percent of undocumented immigrants attend college currently, primarily due to lack of funds. However, in the past few years, state legislatures and private institutions have stepped in to help the undocumented increase their access to universities and other higher education like vocational schools.
The most important program that contributes to increased numbers of immigrants attending universities is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012. This program, which implements many of the requirements originally stated in the DREAM Act, mandates that to be eligible, an immigrant must be in school or have received a GED or diploma. If someone graduates high school, he or she is statistically more likely to attend university if it is possible.
Also, there are increased numbers of grants and scholarships offered solely to undocumented students. Recently, the Pritzker Foundation of Chicago announced it would provide around $3 million to 70 undocumented high school students in the city in order for them to attend college. Harvard University has also given scholarships to undocumented immigrants, including a full scholarship to Dario Guerrero, a young Mexican who learned he was undocumented only at the beginning of high school.
An Immigration Attorney Can Help You
If you need help getting on a path to citizenship or lawful permanent residence, the Illinois immigration attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are great to have on your side. Contact our DuPage County, IL office today for a consultation.
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