Culture

How One Latina’s App Is Helping Undocumented Students Find Ways To Pay For College

For high school seniors, applying to college can be a stressful process with applications and countless fees. But what can be even more stressful is being told you can’t go to college because of money. This is the harsh reality for thousands of undocumented immigrants every year that find out they don’t qualify for FAFSA or any government scholarships due to their legal status in the United States. Sarahi Espinoza Salamanca, knows first hand how this felt back in 2008 when she found out she didn’t qualify for FAFSA because she was undocumented.

“When I was in high school I found out that because I was undocumented I was not going to be able to qualify for FAFSA like all my other friends,” Salamanca, then 18, told Forbes. “I asked my counselor for guidance on other options to finance my college education and she said that people like me didn’t go to college.”

Espinoza Salamanca knew she had to find a solution to to an issue that affects millions in the U.S.

Credit: Jesse Urrutia

Salamanca, who came to the U.S. in 1994 from Mexico at the age of 4, had little to no resources to help pay for college.. At that time in California, in 2008, she qualified for some money under AB540, which allows certain undocumented students in-state tuition. However, it didn’t work to help pay for college since Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy that provides qualified undocumented immigrants with a renewable work permit, didn’t exist until 2012.

Due to these circumstances, Salamanca didn’t go to college directly after high school because she didn’t think she could afford it. Instead, she worked jobs like cleaning houses and taking care of children.

Salamanca wasn’t the only one facing this dilemma, according to Educators for Fair Consideration, a nonprofit that advocates for undocumented immigrants, about 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year but only 10,000 graduate from college. 

With limited options, Salamanca took things into her own hands. She would submit an idea proposal to Voto Latino’s Innovator Challenge, which gives awards to five people with the best ideas in STEM aimed at Latinos in the U.S. Her proposal was DREAMers Roadmap, a nonprofit app that helps undocumented students around the country find scholarships to go to college.

Salamanca would win the competition and earn $100,000 to help jump start the app. She began working full time for DREAMer’s Roadmap after getting her associate’s degree from Cañada College in Redwood City in 2015.

Since the app launched in 2016, it
has helped over 20,000 undocumented students find scholarships.

Credit: @ModernLatinas/Twitter

The app finds scholarships from different organizations and shares scholarship information via text, email or social media. It also allows users to search for scholarships without having to create an account in case some undocumented students don’t want to give personal information.

DREAMer’s Roadmap has opened us countless opportunities for undocumented students across the country. Salamanca told Forbes that she is constantly hearing back from students about how the app has changed the trajectory of their lives. The app has also gained multiple national sponsors including the UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program.

“As I travel the country sharing my story and my work I’ve been blessed to have met many of the users of our app and hearing their stories reminds me that we are doing a good job and fulfilling our mission of bringing hope and financial opportunities to immigrant communities.”

This is just the first step for Salamanca, who wants to continue helping undocumented students reach higher education.

Credit:@DreamersRoadmap/Twitter

Now a 28-year-old resident of East Palo Alto, Salamanca has received national praise and recognition for her work. In 2018, she was nominated for a Visionary of the Year award for her work towards undocumented communities. Salamanca now has a green card and has plans to continue her education at a four-year-college.

But for all the successes that have come Salamanca’s way she never forgets why she started this all. She reminds others the value of higher education and why having it harder for some to access it, is a loss of so much potential.

We are a country of immigrants and many of our giant companies have been founded by immigrants so why not educate our immigrants and accept them,” Salamanca told Forbes. “We as a country are losing so much talent and potential by making it so hard to educate these students. You would think we want to be a society of the most educated people but we make it nearly impossible for these kids to have an opportunity to be an essential part of this country. This is our home too.”

READ: ICE Releases Flight Attendant and DACA Recipient That Was Held for 6 Weeks

Presidential Candidates At The Second Democratic Debate Stand Up For Undocumented Health Rights

Things That Matter

Presidential Candidates At The Second Democratic Debate Stand Up For Undocumented Health Rights

nbcnews / Instagram

The second night of the Democratic debates in Miami were held last night and the undocumented and DACA communities were the main topics. The clear winner of last night’s debate was California Senator Kamala Harris who took on former Vice President Joe Biden and emerged victorious. Here’s a quick recap of what the 10 candidates had to say last night.

California Kamala Harris took a stand with DACA recipient and pledged her full support if elected

“Immediately on January 20, 2021, I will… First of all, we cannot forget our DACA recipients, so I’m going to start there,” Harris answered moderator José Diaz-Balart when asked about dealing with the migrant crisis at the border. “I will immediately, by executive action, reinstate DACA status and DACA protection to those young people. I will further extend protection for deferral from deportation for their parents and for veterans, who we have so many who are undocumented who have served our country and fought for our democracy.”

She added: “I will also immediately put in place a meaningful process for reviewing the cases for asylum. I will release children from cages. I will get rid of the private detention centers and I will ensure that this microphone that the president of the United States holds in her hand is used in a way that is about reflecting the values of our country and not about locking children up and separating them from their parents.”

Sen. Harris then turned to Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden and addressed his record on the issues of race and school integration.

“So, on the issue of race,” Harris started looking at Biden. “I couldn’t agree more that this is an issue that is still not being talked about truthfully and honestly. There is not a Black man I know be he a relative, a friend, or a coworker who has not be the subject of some form of profiling or discrimination. Growing up, my sister and I had to deal with the neighbor who told us that her parents said she couldn’t play with us because we were Black.”

Harris then took on Biden’s record on race saying: “It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and careers on the segregation of race in this country. It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose bussing. There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public school and she was bussed to school every day. And, that little girl was me.”

The moment was one of the most stunning at the debate. The audience was silent as Harris captivated the audience giving a personal story on race in America.

Harris was referring to Biden’s remarks from a New York fundraiser where he spoke openly about how he was able to work across the aisle with to segregationist senators in the 1970s.

“I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland… He never called me ‘boy’. He always called me ‘son,'” Biden said of the segregationist senator from Mississippi.

He then brought up “a guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list with these guys. Well, guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done,” Biden said. “We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”

The other big moment from last night’s debate was the candidates agreeing to healthcare for undocumented people in the U.S.

Credit: NBC News

Moderator Savannah Guthrie asked the candidates a show-of-hands question about which candidates included undocumented people on their health care plans. Every candidate raised their hands in solidarity.

Guthrie then turned first to South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as to why his plan allows undocumented people to have healthcare coverage.

“Our country is healthier when everyone is healthier,” Mayor Buttigieg said. “Remember, we’re talking about something that people are given a chance to buy into. In the same way that there are undocumented immigrants in my community who pay. They pay sales taxes. The pay property taxes directly or indirectly. This is not about a handout. This is an insurance program.”

Debate viewers were pleased to see the show of support for the undocumented community.

Credit: @un_documented / Twitter

The undocumented community has faced years of attacks from the current administration. The community does not have the power to vote so their future and wellbeing is tied directly to the people around them who have the ability to vote. Hearing candidates talk about issues impacting the undocumented community with compassion is something so many voters have been looking for.

It gave some people hope for the future of America for the first time in two years.

Credit: @CarlosGSmith / Twitter

It is not a secret that several communities have been in distress as the Trump administration steam rolls over everyone’s rights. Seeing this display is something that is sending a message to Americans seeking a compassionate and better functioning government.

It is also important to note that nay sayers of the idea claim they don’t want their tax dollars paying for this. Undocumented immigrants pay taxes. Undocumented people in the U.S. pay billions of dollars in taxes. According to a 2017 study, undocumented people paid $11.7 billion in taxes in 2014.

Texas is the second largest beneficiary of undocumented taxes with a total of $1.6 billion in taxes coming from undocumented people in 2014. California was number one with $3.2 billion in tax dollars in 2014. That said, the debate of whether or not undocumented people deserve healthcare ignores the fact that undocumented people are subsidizing the federal programs Americans use on a daily basis, like Social Security, but those same people do not benefit from those tax dollars spent.

READ: Here Are The Winners And Losers Of Last Night Democratic Debates In Miami Last Night

DACA Recipients Will Finally Be Heard At The US Supreme Court In A Case That Could Decide Their Future

Things That Matter

DACA Recipients Will Finally Be Heard At The US Supreme Court In A Case That Could Decide Their Future

immigrationequality / Instagram

Ever since Donald Trump took office, his administration has been trying to gut the Obama-era program known as DACA. His government announced in 2017 that it would wind down the Obama-era program, sparking outcry from the Latino community and immigration advocates.

The rescission of the program included a six-month window for Congress to pass legislation offering similar protections for DACA recipients, but lawmakers were unable to get a bill to the president’s desk. So several court cases have been making their way through the legal system and now will end up at the US Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will take on a challenge to the Trump Administration’s attempt to end DACA.

Credit: @AFP / Twitter

The US Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s attempt to shut down a program that shields hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

The administration has argued that the initial implementation of DACA, through executive order, was unlawful as then-President Obama didn’t have the authority to single-handedly impose such a program. And they argued that then-Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke had the agency power to pull back the protections.

The news comes after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted in favor of DACA recipients.

Credit: @haydenblack / Twitter

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its ruling earlier this year that ending the program violated federal administrative law, and that Duke “rescinded a general enforcement policy in existence for over five years and affecting hundreds of thousands of enrollees based on the view that the policy was unlawful.” 

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year also upheld a national injunction blocking the end of DACA, finding that the program’s end was “arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” 

However, Trump said after the ruling that he never expected the circuit court to rule in his favor. “We want to be in the Supreme Court on DACA,” Trump said at the time, calling the ruling “good news.”

The court won’t hear arguments in the case until the next term which begins in October.

Credit: @vmramos / Twitter

The court will hear arguments in the case during its next term, which starts in October, and will probably issue its decision in the spring or summer of 2020, ensuring a fierce immigration debate over the outcome in the midst of the presidential campaign.

While most courts have ruled in favor of DACA, it’s still important that everyone eligible for DACA begin the process immediately.

Credit: @votolatino / Twitter

The lower courts may have decided in favor of DACA recipients and declared the Trump Administration’s move illegal, it’s not a guaranteed outcome at the Supreme Court.

So it’s extremely important that if you’re DACA status is expiring within the next six months, you have got to start your renewal process ASAP!

While reactions on Twitter were swift, most were cautiously optimistic.

Because Dreamers are #heretostay!

Many on Twitter have high hopes for Dreamers and their path to citizenship.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

The program has been around for years. And it’s a program that benefits children, teens, and young adults who have been in this country for years. So to many it seems like a logical move – let Dreamers stay!

Though not everybody shares the same level of optimism.

Credit: @kylegriffin1 / Twitter

Many suggested that the court, with its new conservative majority, may use this opportunity to deliver Trump a ‘victory’ right in the middle of his 2020 reelection campaign.

Paid Promoted Stories