By Robert C. Ballard
President & CEO, Scholarship America
Ending the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program will profoundly affect nearly 800,000 students nationwide. Unless Congress takes action, there will no longer be any federal protection for Dreamers. Finding a permanent solution for those students is critical to their success and ability to contribute to our country.
Scholarship America, along with virtually all colleges and universities and many other national student support organizations, calls on the U. S. Congress to pass the Dream Act and deliver permanent relief and security for these individuals. The Dream Act would provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for anyone who was eligible for DACA, and it would allow Dreamers to more affordably attend college via access to federal student aid. The Dreamers we work with are eager to complete their postsecondary education and get jobs. They are a critical part of our nation’s future workforce and Americans in every measure. They have worked incredibly hard and deserve our country’s support.
Our scholars are among the best and brightest individuals in the country. Many of them have overcome significant barriers in their lives. Through no fault of their own they were brought to the U.S. as children and now face possible deportation from the only country they’ve ever known due to the lack of documentation.
They have much to offer and simply want to complete their education and work. They include students like Linda Rivera, who is pursuing a chemical engineering degree, and still finds time to tutor other students and assist them in preparing for the SAT; Luis Loza, who, as a full-time Electronics and Mechanical Manufacturing major, serves the community by leading the Habitat for Humanity chapter at his school and advocating for other immigrant students; and Kimberly Schwartz, a Business Administration major who interned with Facebook and Apple and mentors at-risk high school students.
DACA students include Rodrigo Tellez, a chemical and biomolecular engineer, who does research to develop biodegradable, organic and environmentally friendly plant coatings as an alternative to pesticides; and Giovanni Escobedo, who is studying biomedical engineering and hopes to continue to earn a Ph.D. Yessenia Cantero Hernandez is a nursing major who hopes to use her education to teach minorities how to identify warning signs for diseases like diabetes, so they can get the medical help they need before it’s too late.
Jorge Morales is a civil engineering major whose determination to pursue his dream inspired several family members and co-workers to take steps toward their own dreams. Breaking the cycle of poverty is important to Jorge, so he always makes sure to encourage the people he meets along the way to climb out of their circumstances with him. Francisco Juarez is a member of the Honors College at the University of Utah, majoring in information systems. Cecilia Cardozo is a Speech and Hearing Science major who received her college’s College of Health Undergraduate Student Researcher Award.
These are just a few examples. Almost 11% of Scholarship America’s Dream Award applicants and 29% of Dream Award scholarship recipients are DACA students; and over 32% of our Dollars for Scholars chapters report granting scholarships to DACA students. If Congress fails to take action, not only will Dreamers be affected, our country will lose 800,000 young people with amazing minds and tremendous talent.
Dreamers want to learn and want to work. They deserve support. Scholarship America joins in calling for a permanent solution for DACA students. Let your Congress members know you too want to get the Dream Act passed.