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The Chronicle of Higher Education Highlights New “In Their Own Words” Report from TheDream.US

For Immediate Release: October 23, 2018

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


The Chronicle of Higher Education Highlights New “In Their Own Words” Report from TheDream.US

New report summarizes findings from national survey of 1,400 TheDream.US Scholars; presents recommendations for how educational institutions, policymakers, business community and others can help immigrant students succeed

Washington, DC – Yesterday, TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for immigrant youth, 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. The report also 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.

In a story titled, “Colleges Should Enhance Resources for Undocumented Students, Report Urges. Here’s How Some Are Doing That,” reporter Andy Tsubasa Field of The Chronicle of Higher Education explores the new In Their Own Words report and its implications. We excerpt several key sections below:

“Maria Ivonne Treviño-Rodriguez, a junior at the University of Houston, has worked four different jobs as a student, two of them for about 40 hours a week, she says … “I’m trying to make sure that I am able to survive financially and able to help my family,” she says.

… A study conducted last spring by an organization that supports such students with scholarships found that 71 percent of DACA students work in some capacity while attending college and 29 percent work full time. Of the employed students, approximately 89 percent are also full-time students, according to a report on the study, which was released on Monday. By contrast, 43 percent of all undergraduates work in some capacity.

In the study, the organization, called TheDream.US, sent survey questions to 3,058 of the students it supports, and 1,413 responded — a response rate of 46 percent. The group takes its name from the undocumented students it seeks to help, who are commonly called Dreamers. Over all, TheDream.US awards funds to 2,866 students, who earned a 3.55 GPA in high school or a 3.56 in community college.

Based on the study’s findings, TheDream.US’s primary recommendation for colleges and universities is to establish resource centers with staff members who can provide professional, academic, and legal counseling specific to the needs of undocumented students, said Gaby Pacheco, program director for advocacy, development, and fund raising at TheDream.US. The group also recommended that campuses provide mental- and physical-health services to its immigrant students.

… The University of California at Davis was the first to build a center for undocumented students, in 2014, said Emily Prieto-Tseregounis, assistant vice chancellor for its Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity. Among other things, it provides free legal services to students and their parents through a legal fellow from the university’s law school. This year the legal fellow has helped students submit DACA-renewal applications, she said.

… “We have seen how colleges and universities have worked through what they already have on campus,” Pacheco said. “Even if it’s establishing a resource center or finding different things that institutions can do to expand services that are provided for other students but make sure that the immigrant students on campus know that those services are available for them as well.””


Additional Background and Report Findings and Recommendations

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.


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.

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