The impact of immigration reform on higher education

Immigration reform has become the center of debate in the U.S. because it affects so many aspects of the lives of immigrants as well as American citizens. Immigrants in the U.S. have different options to aid them on their path to citizenship, but during their journey they are faced with many obstacles. One of these involves their children’s access to education opportunities that could help them obtain higher skilled jobs and contribute to the economy here.

Affording an education
The higher education community has been petitioning the current administration to focus on its goal of empowering children of immigrants to attend college. Currently, many institutions do not allow children of undocumented immigrants to attend classes and earn a degree. These children cannot receive loans or financial aid, which in turn limits their opportunities for employment substantial enough to allow them to pay for college. Without legislation to help these young people, the few that are able to attend classes will be required to work several low-paying jobs to cover tuition expenses, and the fear of deportation for them and their families is an added burden.

How the DREAM Act will help
These facts and their ramifications for the lives of undocumented youth have motivated organizations comprised of educators, community colleges and state universities to suggest different options to help young immigrants go to school.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (better known as the DREAM Act) is one example of the push to educate the children of immigrants. The DREAM Act offers temporary citizenship to children brought to this country before the age of 16 who have lived in the U.S. for five years and attend college or join the military. The DREAM Act would affect the lives of more than 65,000 undocumented youngsters who will graduate from American high schools by helping them with in-state tuition. Currently, 14 states in the U.S. provide children of immigrants with in-state tuition.