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Keeping the dream alive: Resource Guide for undocumented students

Keeping the dream alive: Resource Guide for undocumented students

STUDENT NOTE: Several

STUDENT NOTE: Several bills have been introduced to the Texaslegislature to repeal SB 1528, which grants immigrant students in-statetuition rates. Similarly, California is facing a legal battle to repeal AssemblyBill (AB) 540. However, until a final decision is made, both SB 1528 andAB 540 continue to be law. Therefore, undocumented students are stilleligible for in-state tuition.ABOUT THE “DREAM ACT”Federal legislation does not explicitly prohibit undocumented students fromattending U.S. colleges and universities. However, the Illegal ImmigrationReform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) contains a provisionwhich prohibits states from providing postsecondary benefits to undocumentedimmigrants unless such benefits are provided to U.S. citizens. Because of IIRIRA,undocumented immigrants must pay international or out-of-state tuition rates atcolleges and universities, which has the effect of making postsecondary educationunattainable for many students. As a result, thousands of otherwise eligiblestudents are denied access to college.Federal legislation was introduced earlier in early 2009 to address this issue. The“Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act” (S. 729) wasintroduced on March 26, 2009 by Senators Richard Durbin (D–IL) and RichardLugar (R–IN). The “American Dream Act” (H.R. 1751) was introduced the sameday in the House of Representatives by Representatives Howard Berman (D–CA),Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R–FL), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D–CA). This legislation would:• Repeal the provision in IIRIRA that denies states the option to allowundocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates if they meet their state’scriteria for residency.• Provide a path to legal residency for students who came to the U.S. at age 15or younger at least five years before the date of the bill’s enactment. Thesestudents would qualify for conditional permanent resident status if, among otherthings, they graduate from a U.S. high school, are awarded a GED in the U.S.,or are admitted into college. Students would be disqualified from receiving thisconditional status if they commit crimes or become a security risk.• The conditional permanent resident status is similar to lawful permanentresidency, but would be limited to six years. Some of these students willhave the opportunity to adjust their status to lawful permanent residentunder the “DREAM Act.”3

The “Dream Act” and the “American Dream Act” are expected to be consideredeither as part of a larger comprehensive immigration reform legislative proposal orseparately on their own accord in 2009.WHY COLLEGE?A college education facilitates new knowledge, exposure to diverse topics, broadexperiences, and lifelong friendships. In addition, a college education has thepotential to improve job opportunities (as advanced labor skills are gained), thusproviding a higher income and making students more employable. The employabilityof students may encourage companies to sponsor an undocumented person fortemporary legal visas. 7 Investing in your college education will create positive returnsin your life, so make higher education the ultimate goal to follow!TIP: The college-going process begins in high school. Creating aneducational plan early will better prepare you for the college of your choice.Please consider the following points:• Inquire with your guidance or college counselor about college-prepcourses which will make you eligible for admission to a four-yearuniversity.• Take Advanced Placement (AP) courses or dual-enrollment classes whichgive you college credits as you pursue your high school degree.• Focus on your grades. Your grade point average (GPA) will be heavilyconsidered in the college admission process.• Take all tests seriously. Establish study groups that focus on the highschool exit exam (if required by your state) and the college entrance examsuch as SAT and ACT. 8• Research your college/universities of choice ahead of time and learnabout their entrance requirements, available financial assistance, andscholarship opportunities.• Join or establish a student organization that focuses on the political,social, academic, and emotional needs of undocumented students.• Get involved! Universities seek candidates who are well-roundedindividuals. Internships, sports, extracurricular activities (e.g. schoolclubs), and volunteer opportunities give students leadership, problemsolving,and networking skills.4

Keeping the dream alive: Resource Guide for undocumented students
Keeping the dream alive: Resource Guide for undocumented students
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