Undocumented immigrant college students, or Dreamers, are experiencing higher levels of anxiety about their legal status and increased financial and personal stresses due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey conducted by the scholarship-granting organization TheDream.US.
A total of 2,681 of the approximately 3,850 undergraduate students supported with scholarships from the organization completed the survey, which was administered in May and early June at a time when Black Lives Matter protests were growing across the country and the Supreme Court was deciding the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The survey closed on June 10, slightly more than a week before the Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down the Trump administration’s attempt to end DACA, which provides work permits and protection against deportation to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Eighty-six percent of the survey respondents participate in DACA.
Although the Supreme Court blocked President Donald Trump from immediately ending the DACA program — justices found the administration’s decision making “arbitrary and capricious” — the court left the door open for Trump to take another stab at ending the program, which was established by former president Obama in 2012. The Trump administration said in July it will not process new applications for the program and limited the term for renewal of DACA status to one year instead of the customary two, despite a federal court order directing full restoration of the program.
The survey from TheDream.US found that 70 percent of respondents are “more” (32 percent) or “much more” (38 percent) anxious about their legal status since the start of the pandemic. More than half — 55 percent — see their legal status as a “very” or “extremely” significant barrier to achieving their long-term goals, compared to 44 percent in the previous year’s version of the survey.
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