A few years ago I met a young teen named Luisa. Luisa, one of the many teens that helped with summer camps, had a knack for working with kids. With each passing year, Luisa flourished more and more. On her last year as a counselor, as we sat overlooking a wetlands, I asked her what her plans were for after High School. She looked at me than looked down at her hands and sighed. Like so many undocumented teens that were brought here at a very young age, Luisa saw a dead end. To Luisa, her dream was blocked.
Throughout these past few weeks, we have discussed the evils of assessments, the pros and cons of charter schools and the opportunity gaps abound in our schools. We as educators have worked with students to ensure that they have a future beyond schools, yet they are faced with barriers that are far beyond our control. For so many undocumented young adults, that path is blocked.
The Dream Act, (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) would be a pathway to higher education, military service and the potential for permanent residency for those whom do not have legal status in the US. While stalled on the Federal level, many states have pushed to enact versions of the Dream Act themselves, helping to break down the walls that block the passage to higher education. One aspect of this has been providing an equitably pathway to higher education by enabling undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.
Thanks to the passage of House Bill 2787, this fall (2013) Luisa began her first term as a Portland State University Viking. But this isn’t enough.
As tuition continues to rise, how can we ensure tuition equity for all people? National student lead activist groups like Students for a Democratic Society have launched a national push demanding education rights for undocumented immigrant students. With chapters at Pacific University and Lewis and Clack College, it’s time to take action on our own campus as education rights for all is part of a larger piece to the immigration puzzle.
Inching closer to the goal of tuition equity for undocumented immigrants, a new program was launched. Known as The Dream.US, Elise Foley of the Huffington Post writes, “The new program, called TheDream.US, will allow many to attend college when they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. The effort from TheDream.US will provide scholarships for a variety of schools, including private ones, that have work-related programs and good support systems to help Dreamers stay in” (Foley, 2014). With the Dream.US, this has become a reality for so many undocumented young people who hope to attend college.
Here is more info on theDream.US:
I urge you, if you want to continue to have faith in humanity, do not read the comments. This is a contentious topic that always brings in toxic racial epithets.
And if you as fired up as I am, check out the above Facebook link to get involved with SDS (Students for a Democratic Society).
For more information about tuition equity and how to navigate that path check out the link below: