Logo for: TheDream.us

“In Their Own Words” Report from TheDream.US

For Immediate Release: October 22, 2018

Contact: Michael Earls at 202-494-8555 and [email protected]

“In Their Own Words” – New Report from TheDream.US Highlights Survey Findings of 1,400 Scholars and Offers Related Recommendations

Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, today released In Their Own Words, a new report summarizing the responses and implications from a national survey of 1,400 TheDream.US Scholars. The survey results provide a unique picture of TheDream.US’s Scholars, including their employment and educational gains, while painting a portrait of the uncertainty and anxiety that Scholars face in a difficult immigration climate, particularly with the forthcoming end of DACA and TPS.

In response to the findings, presented in detail below, the report presents a series of recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers; educational institutions; the business community; mental health providers; and community members to help empower and enable immigrant students to succeed.

According to Don Graham, Co-Founder of TheDream.US: “It is always valuable to listen to voices of the DREAMers. They have been subjects of bitter discrimination. Now they are subjects of too much stress. At TheDream.US, we are committed to these students and we understand that their success is tied to our nation’s success. These survey findings are a wake-up call, offering a reminder that universities, policymakers, and all of us can and should do more to help ensure DREAMers can continue to succeed during these uncertain times.”

Angel Cabrera, President of George Mason University, said: “Undocumented students face major, often insurmountable, barriers to attend college. Despite the obstacles, or perhaps because of them, many of the undocumented students who manage to find a way to college become examples of resilience and determination. They engage in campus life, take on leadership roles, and use every opportunity to manifest their fierce belief in the American Dream. Institutions of higher education should read the In Their Own Words report and reflect on the findings and recommendations to ensure that we are fostering an environment that gives these Dreamers the best possible chance to learn and to thrive on our campuses and to keep contributing to the progress of the nation many of them consider their own.”

Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, President of Miami-Dade College, said, “In Their Own Words gives an incredibly comprehensive and thought-provoking glimpse into the lives of undocumented immigrant students, highlighting all they are able to accomplish when given the chance to succeed. Yet it also clearly reminds us that these talented and resilient individuals continue living in fear and uncertainty, hanging on to the hope that a legislative solution will ultimately grant them permanency in the United States. These are some of our country’s best and brightest individuals, and our fight must continue to ensure they can remain in America and contribute to society.”

And Maria Trevino-Rodriguez, a Scholar attending the University of Houston while working full-time said, “TheDream.US not only financially supported my aspiration to pursue a higher education when my family was struggling to make ends meet, but also serves as a support network that consistently works to bridge the gaps that allow bright, undocumented students to fall through the cracks in our educational system. Undocumented students are the next generation of engineers, surgeons, teachers, and lawyers and TheDream.US is making sure that those who are aspiring to become professional leaders are capable of doing so. The In Their Own Words report highlights the very real day-to-day challenges facing undocumented students and the related recommendations show how colleges, policymakers, and everyday Americans can help support me and other Scholars in these uncertain times.”

Survey Findings (full version online here)

Educational Findings

* Virtually all Scholars (97%) indicated that obtaining a college degree was extremely or very important to them.

* Sixty-six percent of Scholars are pursuing a career that requires professional licensing, including medical, legal, and engineering careers.

Employment Findings

* Seventy-one percent of Scholars were employed; of those, one in five Scholars (19%) held two or more jobs and nearly one third (29%) worked full time.

* Over one third of Scholars (34%) provided some sort of financial support to their families.

Quality of Life Findings

* Loss of immigration status would affect childcare for over half (52%) of Scholars who report having a child.

* Almost half (43%) of all Scholars experienced food insecurity in the last year, with nearly three out of five Scholars (58%) indicating they would likely experience food insecurity if they lost their immigration status.

* Four in five Scholars (83%) described themselves as “very anxious” about their immigration status, with a similar percentage (86%) expressing concern for the legal status of their family.

Mobility Findings

* Sixty-nine percent of Scholars hold driver’s licenses and over half (55%) drive to and from work regularly.

* On the state level, Scholars attending college in Florida had the highest percentage of holding driver’s licenses (91%), while Scholars in New York had the lowest percentage (41%).

* A quarter of Scholars (27%) are not comfortable crossing state lines, likely stemming from a fear of encountering immigration or law enforcement authorities.

Report Recommendations (full version online here)

In response to these findings, the report presents a series of recommendations for federal, state, and local policymakers; educational institutions; the business community; mental health providers; and community members, including the following:

* The President and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should fully reinstate DACA; and work with Congress to establish a roadmap to citizenship for immigrant students.

* Congress should enact legislation to provide permanent protection for DREAMers and TPS recipients; restore the ability of states to offer in-state tuition based on residency; repeal the prohibition on professional licenses for immigrants; and extend access to federal financial assistance to immigrant students, including Title IV assistance.

* State legislatures should enact laws to allow noncitizens to apply for and receive professional licenses; driver’s licenses; and in-state tuition, state and institutional financial aid, and scholarships.

* Educational institutions should establish Dream Resource Centers or designate staff to provide services and support to undocumented students and provide information to help students access nutrition; health care; employment; and immigration resources.

* Mental health providers should offer culturally sensitive services for immigrants reflecting the unique, immigration-centric anxieties that students face; and reduce barriers to access to health care for immigrants.

* Businesses and employers should identify strategies to continue to support and compensate DACA and TPS employees who lose their status.

* Community members should engage with the immigrant community; support immigrant activism; and support immigrant-serving institutions.

Additional Background

TheDream.US, which has provided more than 4,000 scholarships to students with DACA and TPS at more than 75 partner colleges in 15 states and Washington, DC, believes that all young people, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential, gain an education, and fully participate in the country that they call home. To date, the organization has committed more than $140 million in scholarship money for DREAMers.

With a 94% first-year persistence rate among its Scholars, TheDream.US is diligently working toward building a nationwide movement of Scholars—imbuing Scholars with a new sense of hope and a mission to help and support their families, communities, and the nation.

* Read a copy of TheDream.US report In Their Own Words available in full online here