This week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that will expand opportunities for undocumented college students to seek financial aid from private institutions. The measure is a step towards more rights for undocumented students who immigrated to the US as children and are saddled with the lifetime legal consequences of a decision they did not make for themselves.
The California law is a modified version of a decades-old federal bill known as the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented youth who immigrated before the age of 16, graduated from US high schools, and are studying at US universities or serving in the military.
Advocates argue that among other long-term benefits of the bill, passing the DREAM Act would encourage more undocumented students to stay in school—current high school dropout rates are higher for immigrant students, partly because of the barriers students know lie between them and higher education. However, an inspiring number of undocumented students do graduate from high school and go on to study at top universities, excelling despite the special financial and legal difficulties they face.Hearing the stories of DREAM Act students and how hard they have worked to achieve their education reminds us that opportunities for academic success should never be taken for granted.