Ending DACA Would Limit Access to Higher Education in Ten States

Christian Penichet-Paul & Ivana Lopez-Espinoa
Date of Publication: 
June, 2020
Source Organization: 

An attempt by the Trump administration to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has put more than 39,300 DACA recipients and thousands of DACA-eligible individuals at risk of losing access to higher education. Nationally, DACA affords nearly 650,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children protection from deportation and the ability to work legally in the U.S. This report explores the educational ramifications of ending DACA in states with restrictive college enrollment policies.  The report notes that state policies on access to higher education for undocumented students and DACA recipients can be categorized into seven distinct policy environments from the most generous to the most restrictive. At least ten states with restrictive policies (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Ohio and South Carolina) would bar DACA recipients from receiving in-state tuition if the program were rescinded, effectively blocking them from access to higher education. In a 2019 survey, 93 percent of DACA recipients indicated they would not be able to pursue higher education without the benefits conferred by DACA. The authors highlight the vital role of states as advocates for DACA recipients, suggesting states implement policies providing DACA recipients with access to in-state tuition and state financial aid. The report underscores that a permanent solution is needed and that, at the federal level, passing legislation swiftly, as well as repealing Section 505 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), are crucial steps in enabling undocumented students to retain access to higher education. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Penichet-Paul, C. & Lopez-Espinoa, I. (2020, June). Ending DACA Would Limit Access to Higher Education in Ten States. Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. https://www.presidentsalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Policy-Brief-Ending-DACA-Would-Limit-Access-to-Higher-Education-in-Ten-States-1.pdf