College Board Releases Resource Guide for Undocumented Immigrant Students

For the first time, the College Board has released a resource guide intended to help undocumented immigrant students seeking to pursue a college education.

The guide includes information on college admission, financial aid,  scholarships and support groups for students residing in states that provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant students attending public colleges and universities. Summaries of the states’ in-state tuition laws and how to qualify also are included. Web site links and email contacts for various support organizations and information sources located in those states are provided, too.

The report was released on Thursday at the organization’s “Preparate” conference in Miami. The College Board organization administers the SAT exams and the Advanced Placement program.

The guide does not include state-specific resources for students residing in areas without in-state tuition laws on the books. It also does not address the policies of private universities.

Fourteen states currently have laws that allow undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition. The state-specific resources listed in the guide cover eleven of those states: California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Despite backlash against undocumented immigrants in many parts of the country, some states have expanded benefits for such students. Connecticut, Maryland and Rhode Island just passed in-state tuition laws in 2011. In addition, California and Illinois have expanded undocumented students’ access to state financial aid programs.

In much of the United States, undocumented immigrant students must pay higher out-of-state tuition rates that can make it difficult to pursue a higher education, particularly because they cannot qualify for federal financial aid.  However, a number of universities have decided to provide financial aid to undocumented students with their own institutional funds.

The guide was created by Alejandra Rincon, an immigrant rights activist who holds a doctorate in education administration from the University of Texas. The document’s release comes as the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant students, has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress. The College Board organization strongly supports the act, and submitted statements in support of its passage when Senate hearings were held last year.

There has been some political movement around these issues. On Wednesday, Florida Republican representative David Rivera introduced an alternative, the Studying Towards Adjusted Residency Status Act, or STARS, which would allow undocumented students brought to the United States at a young age to apply for a five-year non-immigrant status.

Related Links:

– “Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students,” The College Board. 

“Young illegal immigrants coming out of the shadows.” The Associated Press.

“Florida Republican introduces DREAM Act alternative in House.” The Hill.

– “Almost-deported valedictorian Daniela Pelaez helps introduce immigration reform bill.”

“Colleges look at policies for illegal immigrants.” USA Today.

Republican Promotes ‘DREAM Act’ Bill Benefiting Soldiers, Not Students

First came the DREAM Act; now we’re at ARMS.

The Miami Herald reports that Florida Congressman David Rivera, R-Miami, has filed a bill proposing that undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children and serve in the military be provided a path to U.S. citizenship. He calls it ARMS, or Adjusted Residency for Military Service Act.

Unlike the DREAM act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) legislation, ARMS would not help college students.

The future of undocumented young people is shaping up to be a contentious issue in the coming presidential election. Rivera says that he developed the proposal after Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney expressed support for giving undocumented immigrants who serve in the military the opportunity to earn legal status  at Monday’s Florida GOP debate . “If somebody is willing to die for America, then certainly they deserve a chance at life in America,” Rivera told the Herald.

Romney previously declared that  he would veto the DREAM act. The act has repeatedly failed to pass in Congress since 2001.

So, are legislators in your state floating similar ideas? It’s worth checking on.

Meanwhile, this week President Obama renewed his support for a path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrant college students and armed services members in his State of the Union speech. He included it in a section calling for immigration reform. The president has been under increasing heat from Latino leaders upset by the rising number of deportations.

I found it interesting that he did not refer to the DREAM Act by name in his speech. Here’s that part of his speech from Tuesday:

“Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation…”

He went on to add:

“We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”

Defending undocumented immigrant college students is a risky stance to take in today’s political environment. When Texas governor Rick Perry defended his state’s policy on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students while running for the Republican nomination, he came under heavy fire. It proved deadly to his viability as a presidential candidate.