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Gaby Pacheco Reflects on DACA Anniversary

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2023
Contact: Michael Earls at 202-494-8555 or [email protected]

Washington, DC – June 15 is the eleven-year anniversary of the announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The following is a reflection from Gaby Pacheco, TheDream.US Director of Advocacy, Development, and Communications:

“When there is an opportunity, immigrants seize the chance to strengthen not just their own futures, but workplaces, communities, campuses, and the whole country in the process. We are vividly reminded of this reality at TheDream.US, including through the recent graduation of more than 750 of our Scholars. And it’s one of the key lessons from the eleven years of DACA and the stories and contributions of its hundreds of thousands of recipients.

Yet despite its durable popularity and successes, the future of DACA and program recipients remains in limbo. A strong bipartisan majority of the American public supports Dreamers and it’s past time for a strong bipartisan majority of Congress to do the same and finally deliver on a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers and the nation.”

As we wait for Congress to do its job, there are important ways that the Biden Administration, states, and other stakeholders can deliver important steps forward for Dreamers with and without DACA:

  • Biden Administration: While continuing to defend and fortify DACA and its hundreds of thousands of program beneficiaries, it’s important for the administration to expand opportunities and support Dreamers with and without DACA. 
    • For example, they can streamline and allow preprocessing for non-immigrant visa application waivers for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible Dreamers to remove bureaucratic hurdles and facilitate educational and career opportunities.
    • Additionally, the Department of Education should formally clarify that participation in fellowships, training, or other work-based learning programs does not constitute “employment” under federal immigration law. This clarification should be based on specific criteria, including that the primary beneficiary is the enrolled student at a higher education institution, the program is an integral part of the educational experience, the opportunity is non-employment based, and any funding provided to the student covers the cost of living and education expenses. By providing this clarification, we can open doors to non-employment opportunities for undocumented students, enabling them to further develop their skills and contribute to our society.
    • We also urge the administration and the Department of Education to issue guidance to states and institutions on best practices for supporting Dreamer students’ access to and success in higher education.
  • States: While we need a federal solution, states can help fill the void left by federal inaction by passing policies to strengthen Dreamers’ higher education and career opportunities. These include licensure and certification policies, such as Maryland’s important step forward, and efforts to ensure that in-state tuition and financial aid access is available to state undocumented students.
  • Higher Ed Institutions Meanwhile, institutions of higher education must prioritize supporting Dreamers, recognizing their abilities and the benefits they bring to society. By issuing guidance on best practices, colleges and universities can ensure that Dreamer students receive the necessary support to excel academically. Additionally, advocating for inclusive laws and policies enables greater access to higher education for undocumented students, fostering a diverse and equal educational environment. Through these efforts, colleges and universities have the power to make a lasting impact, helping Dreamers thrive and contribute meaningfully to their communities (Read more in this resource guide from TheDream.US on how higher ed institutions can support Dreamers with and without DACA).

About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for undocumented immigrant students, having provided more than 10,000 college scholarships to Dreamers attending over 80 partner colleges in 21 states and Washington, DC. We believe everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have equitable access to a college education, a meaningful career, and opportunities to contribute to the communities they call home. For more information on TheDream.US, visit www.thedream.us