BENEFITING: NEW YORK IMMIGRATION COALITION INC
EVENT DATE: Sep 27, 2011
Every year, about 65,000 undocumented immigrant students graduate from high schools in the United States. Although these students may be accepted into colleges or universities, they have no ability to access financial aid or student loans and are prohibited from working to pay for their own education. They are American in all ways but one; they came to this country as children, were raised here, and consider the United States their home, but they are undocumented. In fact, many do not even know what their immigration status is until they begin the college application process.
These young people, more than a million strong across the country, have come to be known as “Dreamers” a reference both to the proposed legislation that would provide them with a pathway to citizenship—the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act—as well as to their desire to fulfill the “American Dream,” to contribute fully to the country they call home. Last year, thanks to the bravery and determination of these young Dreamers, the DREAM Act—first introduced a decade ago with bipartisan sponsorship—nearly passed, only to be blocked by a filibuster in the Senate.
Recently, the New York Times featured the story of Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who followed in the footsteps of thousands of brave Dreamers before him and came out as undocumented.
The Dream Fellowship Program, an initiative of the New York Immigration Coalition in partnership with the Fund for Public Advocacy, will provide a group of exceptional Dreamers with scholarships and internships at organizations that educate and empower immigrant families across New York City.
The only true solution for Dreamers is for the US Congress to pass the DREAM Act, but given the current climate on Capitol Hill, it’s unlikely to happen in the current session. While the Department of Homeland Security just announced that it would review pending deportation cases and not pursue the deportation of DREAM eligible young people, this policy would not make them eligible for financial aid.