Things That Matter

Here’s How You Can Come Up On Some Cash If You’re A DACA Student

TheDream.US is on a mission to get as many DACA, undocumented and first-generation students to college. The organization first launched in 2014 and has already helped 1,700 students afford the dream of a college education. If you are a DACA-recipient and you need some cash for college, you should totally give TheDream.US a visit.

Since 2014, TheDream.US has been partnering with educational institutions across the country to get more DACA students educated.

thecolor.com
CREDIT: thecolor.com

There are a total of 77 college success programs, community colleges and universities in TheDream.US’ network of schools in 14 states and Washington, D.C. The institutions have to meet a criteria before the organization reaches out to offer the program with a focus on states and regions with a high population of DACA, undocumented and first-generation students.

“One of the things that we do is we look for colleges that show success and for us success means: that they are graduating students, they are either committed or will be DREAMer serving institutes or institutions,” Gaby Pacheco, an immigrant activist and the Program Director for Scholar Programs and Advocacy, told mitú. “We also look for partner colleges who have a history of serving low-income/first-generation students and we ask all of our partner colleges that, as their commitment, to provide a designated scholar advisor who is going to shepherd and help and support our students.”

Now, it’s important to know that the organization offers two kinds of scholarships: the National and the Opportunity Scholarship.

GIPHY Originals / GIPHY
CREDIT: GIPHY Originals / GIPHY

“The whole idea is that the students who are [enrolled] can go to a community college, graduate and then go to a university,” Pacheco told mitú. “Or, instead of graduating from a community college, can just go to a university.”

The National Scholarship will award students up to $25,000 for four years.

KATE BONES / GIPHY
CREDIT: KATE BONES / GIPHY

This scholarship will help to supplement DACA students who live in states where they can pay in-state tuition.

The Opportunity Scholarship will award up to $80,000 for four years.

GIPHY Originals / GIPHY
CREDIT: GIPHY Originals / GIPHY

“For the opportunity scholarships, it’s a little bit different and the way the opportunity scholarships work is that we’ve targeted 16 states that either prevent people who have DACA to go to college or ask them to pay the out-of-state tuition, which makes it practically impossible for these students to afford the tuition,” Pacheco told mitú. “So, those students that live in those states can apply for those scholarships.”

The organization started with the help of a man named Don Graham.


“It all started because Don Graham had a scholarship program in DC and he would always hear about students who couldn’t go to college or couldn’t afford it,” Pacheco told mitú. “Being the fighter and being that person, at least here in DC that has been fighting like no other on insuring that people have access to education and higher education, he said, ‘We have to right this wrong.'”

Pacheco also mentioned that the talk of immigration reform becoming a viable policy spurred the organization to get things rolling to help students achieve their dreams.

Pacheco believes in the program because our job society places a higher value on education.

Mic / GIPHY
CREDIT: Mic / GIPHY

“I went to college when I was undocumented and when I got DACA I was kind of ahead of the game of a lot of people because I had received an education and I could apply for the kinds of jobs the required bachelor’s degrees,” Pacheco told mitú. “So, it’s just a way to be ahead of the game for many things and, of course, a lot of young people have had those dreams to go to college and their dreams have been deferred because they don’t have access to the funding.”

And many immigration policies have education components.

SXSW / GIPHY
CREDIT: SXSW / GIPHY

“On the immigration front, every piece of legislation that we’ve seen that specifically targets or talks about this population, there’s always an education component,” Pacheco told mitú. “We’re telling people that it’s just a way to get prepared for something that it’s been long-coming but we know, eventually, we’ll get here. With DACA, for example, people are now able to use their education that they have received.”

TheDream.US hopes to leave behind a legacy of educated people and educational institutions that will help similar students in the future.

Washington University in St. Louis / GIPHY
CREDIT: Washington University in St. Louis / GIPHY

“Our goals are to leave behind over 4,000 graduates who can contribute to the socioeconomic prosperity of not just themselves or their families, but also the communities that they live in. We also want to leave behind institutions that are ready to serve these students and are ready to serve immigrants and can help beyond the students that we graduate as well,” Pacheco told mitú about the organization’s overall goal. “The other thing that we want to do is increase college access for these students. We shouldn’t have to do this, you know, colleges and universities like any other student that comes and live in the community should be providing them with the same tuition as anyone else.”

The application process for these scholarships is currently open and closes early 2017.

Napoleon Dynamite / 20th Century Fox / 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / GIPHY
CREDIT: Napoleon Dynamite / 20th Century Fox / 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / GIPHY

The National Scholarship is open until March 8, 2017 and the Opportunity Scholarship closes February 1, 2017. So, if any of these scholarships apply to you, log onto thedream.us and fill out the application. There is so much money waiting for you.


READ: SCOTUS Immigration Case Will Impact Millions — Possibly Even You

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With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Things That Matter

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

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A Judge Has Ruled That The University of California System Can No Longer Use SAT And ACT Tests For Admissions And It’s A Huge Win For The Underprivileged

Kevork Djansezian / Getty

Advocates against the use of standardized tests for college admissions have long argued that the use of such exams sets back students from underprivileged backgrounds and those who have disabilities. Aware of the leg up it gives to privileged and non-disabled students an advantage in the admittance process, they’ve rallied for schools to end such practices.

And it looks like they’ve just won their argument.

A judge has ruled that the University of California system can no longer use ACT and SAT tests as part of their admissions process.

Brad Seligman is the Alameda County Superior Court Judge who issued the preliminary injunction in the case of Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California on Tuesday. The plaintiffs in Kawika Smith v. Regents of the University of California include five students and six organizations College Access Plan, Little Manila Rising, Dolores Huerta Foundation, College Seekers, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and Community Coalition.

In his decision, Judge Seligman underlined that the UC system’s “test-optional” policy on UC campuses has long given privileged and non-disabled students a chance at a “second look” in the admissions process. According to Seligman, this “second look” denies such opportunities to students who are unable to access the tests.

The decision is a major victory for students with disabilities and from underprivileged backgrounds.

News of the decision comes on the heels of the university system’s ruling to waive the standardized testing requirements until 2024.

In May, a news release asserted that if a new form of a standardized test had not been developed by 2025, the system would have to put an end to the testing requirement for California students. On Monday, the judge’s ruling took things further by banning the consideration of scores from students who submit them all together.

“The current COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in restrictions in the availability of test sites,” Seligman wrote in his ruling. “While test-taking opportunities for all students have been limited, for persons with disabilities, the ability to obtain accommodations or even to locate suitable test locations for the test is ‘almost nil.'”

A spokesperson for the University of California said the university “respectfully disagrees with the Court’s ruling.”

“An injunction may interfere with the University’s efforts to implement an appropriate and comprehensive admissions policies and its ability to attract and enroll students of diverse backgrounds and experiences,” the spokesperson said. According to the spokesperson, the UC system is considering further legal action in the case. The system said that its testing has allowed for an increase in admission of low-income and first-generation-to-college-students for the fall of 2020.

With UC being the largest university system in the country, Seligman’s ruling is a massive deal. Students and advocates have long fought for the elimination of these standardized tests arguing that they do not accurately reflect a student’s academic ability.

“Research has repeatedly proved that students from wealthy families score higher on the SAT and ACT, compared to students from low-income families,” reports CNN. It’s important to note that the analysis by Inside Higher Ed revealed that the “lowest average scores for each part of the SAT came from students with less than $20,000 in family income. The highest scores came from those with more than $200,000 in family income.”

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