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TheDream.US Proud to Support Effort to Expand In-State Tuition Equity to More Massachusetts Dreamers

For Immediate Release: July 24, 2023
Contact: Michael Earls at [email protected]

Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college and career success program for undocumented immigrant students, today offered its support for Massachusetts lawmakers who are considering expanding eligibility for in-state tuition and state financial aid so more Dreamers can attend Massachusetts public colleges and universities. Currently, Massachusetts law limits eligibility to Dreamers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, a program that now bars new applicants as a result of ongoing legal challenges.

Last Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislature’s Joint Committee on Higher Education held a hearing on the proposed policy. Among a range of state and national voices speaking in favor of expanded eligibility included:

Donald Graham, co-founder of TheDream.US, whose testimony last Tuesday included the following excerpts:

“For ten years I’ve been running a scholarship program for both DACA and fully undocumented people around the United States and I simply want to tell you what I’ve learned from the experience of dealing with these students. There is so much to hope for by passing [the in-state tuition bill] and nothing to fear…

…today, your undocumented graduates all across Massachusetts, almost none will have DACA. That’s not their fault, they would like to have it. But first President Trump and then a federal judge in Texas have shut down applications, so no one now can apply, including students here who would otherwise qualify for it. In our first year class this year I would guess that 95% of our students will not have DACA. They are just as able and motivated as those with DACA … 23 other states give these students in-state tuition.

I’m glad to testify, but the more eloquent spokespeople are the students sitting in this room. They are great young people. They went to high school in Massachusetts but I can also tell you that most of them went to first grade in Massachusetts. The average student in our scholarship program came to the United States at age four or five.

If you grant them in-state tuition, TheDream.US would expect to offer scholarships to at least 30 such students, but many many more would attend your state colleges, starting with your two-year colleges … what will this mean for Massachusetts? Our most common major is nursing, we also graduate a lot of teachers, and another huge major is business … The cost to the Commonwealth will be about zero. The benefit will start with the tuition they will pay but will become much greater down the years … This legislation, yes, will benefit the Dreamers. But it will also benefit all the people of Massachusetts.”

Additionally, Dalia Larios offered personal reflections as the first DACA recipient to be accepted and graduate from Harvard Medical School. Larios is Chief Resident at Harvard Radiation Oncology Program affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Among their remarks:

“I look at the young faces in this room and see my reflection in them. Many may wonder if they will even be given a chance. You are their chance. When you remember my story, I hope you think of the 11,000 undocumented students in MA who have the same desires and dreams I did and who see you as a beacon of hope.

As a cancer doctor, when patients come to me, they trust that I will stand by them at their most vulnerable of times. Similarly, these students are at their most vulnerable and trust you, their legislators, to help. It would be a shame for our state to lose out on their talents and contributions.

In this body lies the opportunity to change the lives of an entire generation. It’s time you do. Thank you”

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