Report: DACA students still ambitious but increasingly anxious
- A survey of participants in the largest college access program for undocumented students suggests they still rank education and work as a priority, but they have become increasingly anxious about their future, especially in light of the potential end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs.
- TheDream.US surveyed 1,400 of its scholars and found almost all believe college is extremely or very important, 71% are employed and 66% are pursing professions that require a license. Yet nearly 60% said the loss of immigration status would cause them to not have enough food, and about half of those who are parents said it would impact their child care. More than 80% said they were "very anxious" about their immigration status, and about one-quarter are uncomfortable crossing state lines in fear of encountering law enforcement or immigration officials.
- TheDream.US, which works with over 75 colleges and has doled out more than $40 million in scholarships to undocumented students, recommended reinstating DACA and establishing a path to citizenship for immigrant students. It also suggests educational institutions set up resource centers to support undocumented students.
The report strongly supports the DACA program, which was established in 2012 under the Obama administration to grant temporary legal status to young people that were illegally brought to the U.S. as children so they could study and work in the country.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the phaseout of the program over a year ago, but several rulings by federal judges have put it in limbo. Now the administration has said if a lower court doesn't soon decide its fate, the administration will take it to the Supreme Court.
The decision to end DACA has been met with considerable resistance from some higher education leaders. More than 700 college and university presidents have signed onto a letter calling for the program to be upheld, and Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, urged Congress to take action to make DACA protection permanent in a September statement, noting many are "students, scholars, and scientists at our universities."
Other recent developments have made college less affordable for some undocumented students. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that DACA students would no longer be able to receive in-state tuition, which was followed by a 40% decline in DACA student enrollment at Maricopa Community Colleges. Some college have shown their support for DACA students by lowering tuition rates or offering more scholarships. DACA students can't receive federal financial aid and aren't eligible for financial aid or in-state tuition in the majority of states, The Washington Post reported.
TheDream.US recommends colleges expand their financial support for DACA students and remove campus employment and resident assistant positions from "burdensome requirements" such as providing a social security numbers so they are available to Dreamers. DACA students can also benefit from legal assistance to find permanent immigration relief to increase their future prospects, the report states.