Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mapping the Patchwork of State ‘DREAM Acts’ and Postsecondary Education Policies for Unauthorized Immigrant Youth


Photo courtesy of Ruben Hernandez and Migration Policy Institute

Amid lengthy debates over U.S. immigration policy and what to do about the country’s unauthorized immigrants, one particularly sympathetic population has been the focus of significant discussion and policy attention: unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

Since 2001, 17 states have enacted measures that would allow qualified unauthorized immigrant youth, often referred to as DREAMers, to pay resident tuition rates at their postsecondary institutions. These state “DREAM Acts” can differ significantly in their eligibility requirements for in-state tuition, as do state postsecondary education policies regarding the availability of financial aid and other supports.

In a new commentary, the Director of the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy explores the patchwork of differing state policies and stances towards the DREAMers.

The commentary is accompanied by a useful chart that provides information on postsecondary policies related to enrollment, in-state tuition, financial aid, and other supports for the top 15 states of residence for youth eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The chart illustrates how states are coming down on opposite sides of the in-state tuition debate, or adopting seemingly small eligibility distinctions that have big impacts—like disqualifying youth who earned a high school equivalency diploma. MPI also has a data tool with significant data on the DACA population at national and state levels, as well as for top counties.


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