POSITION ON ACCESS TO IN-STATE TUITION AND PUBLICLY-FUNDED FINANCIAL AID FOR DREAM ACT-ELIGIBLE STUDENTS

Zuri Group

POSITION ON ACCESS TO IN-STATE TUITION AND PUBLICLY-FUNDED FINANCIAL AID FOR DREAM ACT-ELIGIBLE STUDENTS

As adopted by the National Policy Steering Committee and Immigration Task Force on September 21, 2011

Each year approximately 50,000-65,000 undocumented students graduate from American high schools. Many of these students were brought to the United States when they were very young and grew up in American schools, learning American values and experiencing American culture.

AJC supports federal legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for these students, and continues to work to make a federal DREAM Act a reality.

Even in the absence of such federal legislation, however, several states have enacted, and others are considering, their own version of the DREAM Act. While the states may not, of course, change the immigration status of individuals, these bills would provide these students with access to opportunities in higher education similar to the opportunities available to citizen residents. In so doing, state DREAM Acts could help break the cycle of underemployment, instability, and poverty experienced by undocumented immigrants and could reduce dropout rates, criminal justice costs, and the need for public assistance. State DREAM Acts would also reward good behavior by young people who, despite their circumstances, have worked hard and remained in school. The young people who would benefit from these bills are in the formative years of their lives. Further delay, even for just a few years, could have a tragic impact.

Providing undocumented students with the financial resources to succeed speaks to the very purpose of the DREAM Act.Allowing these students access to the same tuition rates and financial aid as their high school classmates is only fair.These students have come of age in the United States and attended American schools from a young age. They watch American television and listen to American music, celebrate American holidays, and speak English – in sum, they are American. Just as the idea of sending them to a country where they have not lived for most of their lives is as impractical as it is inhumane, the idea of treating them differently from their classmates is fundamentally unfair.

For these reasons, AJC supports access to in-state tuition and publicly-funded financial aid for DREAM Act-eligible students.