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Statement for the Record: “Strengthening our Workforce and Economy through Higher Education and Immigration”

 

 Statement for the Record of Maria Gabriela Pacheco

Director, Advocacy, Communications, and Development

TheDream.US

On

“Strengthening our Workforce and Economy through Higher Education and Immigration”

Before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, Senate Judiciary Committee 

June 14, 2022

 

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for Dreamers, undocumented young people who are eligible or would be eligible for relief under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or any variation of the Dream Act, and/or who have Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and came to the US before the age of 16.

We partner with more than 70+ colleges in 19 states and Washington, D.C., whose leaders are committed to addressing the unique challenges Dreamers face in getting into and through college and preparing for a meaningful career. Since our founding in 2013, we have provided more than 8,750 scholarships to highly motivated Dreamers, including more than 2,500 of our TheDream.US Scholars who are now college graduates. Each is working to move our country forward.

Today’s hearing arrives ahead of the ten-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has proven to be one of the most successful immigration policy programs in United States history. Through such provisions as work permits and deportation protections, DACA not only has transformed the lives of its more than 800,000 recipients but America as a whole.

There are more than 340,000 “essential” workers with DACA, including tens of thousands of teachers and healthcare workers. Others are valued employees of Fortune 500 companies or have started new businesses as entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, DACA has strengthened educational outcomes, helping increase Dreamers’ rates of attendance and graduation from both high school and college.

We have seen many of these successes firsthand, through the stories and statistics associated with our TheDream.US Scholars and graduates who have relied on DACA. During its ten years, DACA has offered a glimpse of what citizenship and full participation in American life would mean for Dreamers and made a compelling case for why legislation delivering permanent status for these individuals would be even more beneficial to the nation.

Now is the time to deliver on such legislation, especially in recognition of continued legal challenges to DACA and the reality that many younger Dreamers lack the existing DACA protections. For example, only 17 percent of our recently awarded TheDream.US National Scholarship recipients have DACA protections, a decline of 50 percentage points from the cohort awarded National scholarships two years ago.

Like most Americans, Dreamers want to keep moving forward and build on their progress. It’s time we give them the certainty to do so. We at TheDream.US call on Congress to pass legislation as swiftly as possible to offer permanent legal protections to these valuable students, employees, friends and members of our communities. Legislation that will enable our TheDream.US Scholars, alumni, and other Dreamers to adjust status and, eventually, to naturalize will stabilize and strengthen both their lives as well as the nation’s.

TheDream.US National Scholarship Applications are still open. The deadline to apply is Feb 29, 2024.

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