Investing in Nation's Human Capital

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

Investing in Nation's Human Capital


When you talk to DREAMers -- those undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents -- what you hear most often is that they just want to get on with their lives.

These young people are in the legal version of a black hole. But unlike many of those who choose to come here illegally, they can't find their way home. Because this is home.

Finding a way to allow DREAMers to stay in this country is just the first step. After that, getting on with your life means getting a driver's license, obtaining a work permit, being able to apply to college and -- the one item on the list that is often overlooked -- being able to pay tuition once you're accepted.

In most cases, you need a valid Social Security card to apply for federal financial aid, and going through that process is a requirement before you can apply for aid from a college or university. So DREAMers are stuck.

Now, given that most undocumented immigrants in the United States are Hispanic -- from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. -- the Hispanic Scholarship Fund wants to help some of them get unstuck.

In 2012, the HSF gave out 5,116 scholarships to deserving Hispanic students who plan to attend an accredited college or university, or who are currently enrolled.

HSF President and CEO Fidel Vargas recently announced that his organization -- which gives out about $30 million every year -- intends to start awarding scholarships to undocumented immigrants who plan to attend or are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university.

Here's the catch: To be eligible for a scholarship -- the average size of which is about $2,500 -- a student would have to be granted temporary deferred action by the Obama administration through the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Under DACA -- which came about not by executive order but by a change in policy at the Department of Homeland Security -- students can get a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit. …

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