The following is a statement TheDream.US submitted for the record for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021.
Statement for the Record of
For a Hearing from the Committee on the Judiciary H.R. 6, American Dream and Promise Act of 2021
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 106
Washington, D.C. 20002
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 believe that DREAMers should have the opportunity to realize the American dream of obtaining a college education and contributing to the prosperity of our nation. Working with our partners, we provide scholarships to highly motivated DREAMers to help them pay for their college education.
Our approach is designed to scale and deliver relevant and sustainable impact. We partner with over 70+ colleges in 19 states and Washington, D.C., whose leaders are committed to addressing the barriers and challenges DREAMers face in getting into and through college. We are working to help over 7,500 highly motivated DREAMers graduate from college with career-ready degrees(1). Approximately 1,700 undocumented students have graduated college—1,600 with a bachelor’s degree—after receiving a scholarship from TheDream.US.
H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, would offer permanent protections for our current and future Scholars. In our 2021 Impact Report, we share that approximately 79% of our Scholars have DACA; 3% have TPS; and 18% are undocumented without DACA or TPS. This percentage will decrease each year as DREAMers “age out” of DACA. Among our newest cohort of incoming TheDream.US Scholars for the 2021-2022 academic year, only 23% report having DACA status.
Recent data from the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and New American Economy estimates that 427,000 students in higher education are undocumented, 181,000 of whom either have or are eligible for DACA(2). The Center for American Progress estimates that 131,300 TPS holders and 202,500 DACA recipients are currently working in essential industries on the frontlines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic(3). Likewise, 76% of our working graduate Scholars are currently employed in industries considered essential or frontline, and 72% of our graduates have immediate family working in essential or frontline industries(4). Undocumented students and essential workers need access to longer-term protections and a pathway to citizenship, which the American Dream and Promise Act offers to qualifying undocumented individuals, including DACA and TPS holders(5).
The American Dream and Promise Act’s pathway to citizenship is useful not only for preserving family unity and pursuing an education, but also for obtaining professional or occupational licensure. According to our data, 57% of our current Scholars and 21% of our graduates are pursuing jobs and careers that require licensure to practice, such as medical, legal, or engineering careers. If those Scholars can adjust status under the American Dream and Promise Act, then they will be eligible for professional licensing and will therefore be able to pursue lucrative and fulfilling careers that contribute to our communities. In fact, we recommend that Congress expand professional and occupational licensing to all immigrants with employment authorization, including all DACA and TPS holders.
The American Dream and Promise Act will enable undocumented students like our Scholars to study and work with a sense of stability and the ability to adjust status and, eventually, naturalize. We at TheDream.US call on Congress to pass H.R. 6 as swiftly as possible to offer permanent legal protections to these valuable students and members of our communities.