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These Dreamers’ Future in America Is in Doubt. But They’re Headed to College Anyway

May 1, 2018



Applying for college can be stressful for any student, but Rosa Sanchez says her immigration status has made it worse.

As an undocumented immigrant brought to the United States as a child, Sanchez has been protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which faces an uncertain future amid the Trump Administration’s pledges to wind it down.

“I saw my classmates and they were really excited,” the 18-year-old tells TIME. “I felt like something was being taken away from me.”

DACA has shielded some 700,000 undocumented immigrants, allowing them to attend school and take jobs, but DACA recipients are not eligible for federal student aid and their access to state- and college-based aid varies.

Despite being a leader in her California high school and one of the top students in her class, Sanchez struggled to grapple with the idea that she may not be able to attend school because she could not afford it. “I felt really hopeless and sometimes I really wanted to give up.”

Last week Sanchez found out she is one of 1,200 students who will gain a financial boost from TheDream.US, the nation’s largest scholarship program for so-called Dreamers, a group that includes recipients of DACA and temporary protected status, a program designed for refugees.

TheDream.Us was launched to fulfill what the leaders thought would be a temporary need — after DACA was established under the Obama Administration, many believed Congress was making real progress toward immigration reform. But four years later, Dreamers are still in limbo, leaving TheDream.US to continue providing scholarships, helping nearly 3,000 during the current academic year. This spring, 400 of the students they awarded in 2014 will be completing their college education.

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