Undocumented Students and the Dream Act
A recent article published on The University of Maryland’s newspaper – The Retriever Weekly – illustrates a problem that is of our greatest concern – undocumented students. Where do these students stand? What are their education options after graduating from high school? Are they able to receive financial aid? The answers to all these questions are none. Nothing is available at present for undocumented students. Very few schools allow undocumented students to enroll without a legal immigration status.
Our thoughts very often go to this unfortunate group, which suffers in terms of educational reach for the lack of immigration status. Many undocumented students have worked hard in school and throughout their lives, and are inspired to take the next step sometimes being the first in their families to graduate from college. Many demonstrate academic achievement, leadership and promise opportunity. However, due to their unfair immigration situation, more often than not, one in which they had no say, their lives are cut and their chances to look for a better future are shattered.
When we discuss the situation of undocumented students, we need to realize that many do not even feel like foreigners. The Retriever quotes Monica in the documentary Papers Stories of Undocumented Youth – “ I’ve never felt like an immigrant,” explaining that many undocumented students entered the U.S. as babies or at a very early age and grew up as Americans, attending public schools and adapting to the system as part of society. They are often times even unaware of the future that awaits them, thinking that college is the natural continuance of their education. However, we see that more often than not, this is not the case, as colleges will not admit students that do not have a legal immigration status. Students’ dreams are shattered after getting rejections by all colleges on their admissions status. However, this might be for the better of the student. We have also heard cases of students that have been admitted to a college, and having completed two years of studies, have had situations where immigration deported them and they ended up losing the moneys paid for their education along with the opportunity to achieve their degree. This can be a much worse situation that not gaining admission, as the student loses so much more from the economic and even psychological standpoints.
Often times I get asked, what can we do if our son or daughter is undocumented and interested in attending college? The answer is one and only one – support the Dream Act. Learn about this law, become an advocate for the Dream Act, promote awareness and help get it enacted. Talk to your congressman, and become active in changing this situation, supporting students that deserve an education to get one.
What is the advantage of doing this if we are not undocumented? Well, let’s think about this – we were once leaders in education, technology, progress, development. While our system is presently crippled, we need to think about building a future of growth, and becoming a world leader again in all these fields. We need brain power, professionals that are prepared to take the challenges of the next decade and innovate, be creative, adapt to adverse circumstances and thrive. Universities need students, students willing to work hard and thrive. We need professors, engineers, nurses, leaders of the academia. These students can certainly be a part of this process to regain the U.S.’s leadership status. Support the Dream Act to support your family, your community and your country.