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DACA Field Report

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  1. DREAMers, DACA grantees return to Maricopa County Community Colleges with In-State-tuition

    The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
    In what is considered one of the most
    important milestones for DREAMers in Arizona and across the nation, the Arizona
    DREAM Act Coalition will be celebrating Monday, January the 7th the return of
    immigrant youth, DACA grantees, to Maricopa County Community Colleges (MCCCD)
    with In-State-Tuition. 
    This situation comes as a reversal of
    bad policy on the immigration-education landscape of Arizona and it is a sign
    of hope for the economic future in the State and the nation, thanks to DACA.
     After the passage of prop.300
    and implementation of anti-education, anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, the
    enrollment of undocumented immigrant youth, DREAMers, to higher education
    institutions collapsed.   There was no ban in place but the cost of
    education, which tripled by out-of-state fees, was put out of the reach of immigrant
    families.
    With the announcement by president
    Obama on June 15th granting Deferred Action for persons who arrived
    as children to the USA (DACA), a door was open for those who apply for this
    process, get a work permit, to request In-State-Tuition at Maricopa Community
    Colleges. 
    Maricopa Community Colleges is the
    largest Community Colleges System in the nation.
    Since 2007, when Arizona's Prop
    300 took effect and the state began to keep track of undocumented students, it
    has come evident the number of undocumented students attending  state's
    universities and community colleges has fallen dramatically. Read
    this article by journalist Griselda Nevarez.  1,524 students who were
    attending one of the three public universities in 2007  were not able to
    prove a legal status. The number of students in this situation had dropped to
    13 by the spring 2012 semester.
    There were 1,470 students who
    couldn't prove a legal status and were attending the state's community colleges
    in spring 2007. By 2012 that number had dropped to 882. Most of these students
    were only taking one or two classes at a time.
    "In the past years we saw a
    collapse  participation of immigrant youth population in community
    colleges and Universities, in spite of the talent dreamers had demonstrated
    when they graduate from high schools, being top of the class and
    valedictorians.  It is an absolute waste of human resources and talent",
    said Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition. "We are not
    seeking special treatment; we are only striving for a leveled plain
    field.  We are taxpayers too and we support education through our taxes,
    some of us for decades", said Matuz.
    To be granted In-State-Tuition at
    MCCCD is necessary for the DACA grantees to present the work authorization card
    (I-766) and another document that demonstrates their residence in Maricopa
    County.  This
    is the set of documents that may be presented (scroll down to County
    Residency).
    The move from MCCCD granting
    In-State-tuitions came, in great part, to the pressure dreamers and advocates
    had put to MCCCD when all venues for affordable education were closed during
    the spring of 2011.  Dreamers had been able to access classes with
    in-state-tuition when taking one or two classes due to a special administrative
    classification in place for many years back.  ADAC members protested MCCCD
    and held many private meetings into the reasoning behind closing the last
    administrative venue for affordable tuition. Read
    this article on the series of protests.
    So far in State-Tuition in
    Arizona is only attainable at Maricopa County Community Colleges District
    (MCCCD).  We advocates are encouraging Arizona Board of Regents and other Community
    Colleges in Arizona to find legal tools and grant IST to DACA grantees. 



  2. New GED Test Scheduled for January 2014 and How It Will Affect DACA Applicants

    The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
    Undocumented youth have confronted
    many roadblocks in their lives, especially in education.   Negative
    immigration-education policy and laws meant to deny undocumented students
    access to higher education gave some an excuse to drop out from high
    school.  Some, regrettably, did not see the point of graduating from High
    School after the continued failure of Congress to pass the DREAM Act at the
    federal level.  High School dropout rates are a problem all over the
    country which affects Hispanics, minorities and immigrant populations in
    disproportionate numbers. Bad immigration-education policy only makes things
    worse.
    With the introduction of the process
    for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the opportunity to enroll
    into a GED program to qualify for application, GED education experienced a
    sudden increase on demand. Click
    here for an article on the demand  for GED instruction.
    GED stands
    for General Education Development. The test is administrated by a division of the American Council on Education.  Click here for a
    link to their site. The administrators are updating the test to spring
    testers into advancing their education into college and will convert the
    official GED test to a computer-based version. The service states that the new
    test "is no longer an endpoint for adults, but rather a springboard for
    further education, training, and better paying jobs."
    For
    potential DACA applicants it means GED enrollment, preparation and test taking
    will need to be done before the end of 2013. Any module taken will not count
    unless the whole battery of test is completed and certification obtained by
    then.  If the student had only completed certain modules, he or she will
    need to start all over to comply with the new test on 2014.   Also
    new fees will be on effect.
    This
    is what the Arizona Department of Education is posting on its website.
  3. DACA Applicants and The Threat of Medical Deportation

    The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
    Even though Deferred
    Action for Childhood Arrivals has provided relief for thousands of DREAMers
    across the nation apparently putting the fear of deportation away, advocates
     were reminded  the fragility of this policy in States like Arizona
    with a new case post DACA.
     Rocio Almanza, a DACA
    applicant married to an American citizen, got gravely sick 1 day shy of her
    biometric appointment and started to experience seizures.  Rocio was taken
    to Banner Dessert Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona. A possible brain infection
    was diagnosed. She was in a medically induced coma for days and when she
    started to wake up, the hospital was pressuring her husband, Christian Solorio,
    into a medical deportation.  The hospital suggested the cost of her
    rehabilitation by a skilled nursing facility was too much for the uninsured
    young couple and told Christian his only option was to send his wife during the
    weekend to Mexico. 
    Christian Solorio,
    who had started to fundraise on line to pay for the medical care of his wife,
    was desperately contacting friends and family and thanks to Ileana Merary
    Salinas got in touch with CADENA, an all volunteer organization member of the
    Arizona DREAM Act Coalition.
     We
    understood the need of a decisive action to prevent the deportation.  Back
    in 2007 we sadly experienced the medical deportation and subsequent dead of Joe
    Arvizu.  Read
    the story here.  He slipped away in front of our eyes back in the days
    where we were confused about what to do to confront Arizona's harsh
    anti-immigration laws. Tragically, an untimely lock-down at Joe's
    High School prevented teacher advocates to reach Joe's mom before he was sent
    in an ambulance to Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.
    There is lack of
    federal funding to assist undocumented immigrants in medical emergencies but
    State laws make the situation worse.
    In Arizona strict
    laws prevent the use of public funding by undocumented students. HB 2008,
     was signed into law in 2009 as part of the 2010 state budget. This law is
    a wide-ranging bill intended to verify the immigration status of nearly
    everyone who comes into contact with state government, including vendors,
    contractors and employees.
    This law affected a
    wide list of state agencies including Arizona Health Care Cost Containment
    System the Department of Health Services, etc. and compromised the care of
    undocumented immigrants (mostly young people) in hospitals in Arizona. Under
    this circumstances the hospitals suggested and were successful in
    medically deport undocumented immigrants.
    Thankfully in Rocio
    Almanza's case we were contacted and were able to request Lawyer Delia
    Salvatierra to immediately intervene on a Saturday morning.  We also
    understood the need to make the case public and call the attention of this
    horrendous "medical dumping" practice.  Media outlets are interested and
    will share this story soon.
     Deferred action won't
    completely stop the threat of deportation for young immigrants. Even a patience with
    legal status could  be in danger of being medically deported. Advocates
    need to remain vigilant to denounce this immoral practice.  
     



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  4. When DACA and SB1070 Collide

    The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
    Cesar
    Valdes, a DACA applicant and active member of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition,
    was detained Thursday, November the 15th, 2012 by a Phoenix Police
    officer and arrested, following the SB1070 playbook. He was dropping off his
    younger brother at school that morning.
    Cesar
    was stopped for allegedly driving with an expired license plate and
    subsequently failing to produce a driver's license.  He became suspect to
    be in the country illegally, enough reason in Arizona to be locked up and sent
    to dreadful 4th Ave. Jail, the realm of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his deputies. He
    spent that night among hard core criminals.  Later, a fight broke up
    inside the jail.  Thankfully he was unharmed but big and tall Cesar
    confessed he was really fearful.
    This
    event brought out reality to immigrant youth, DACA applicants and grantees, who
    were reminded once more of SB1070 and Governor Jan Brewer's executive order to
    deny DACA grantees of an Arizona Driver's License.  Click here to read the
    article from the Arizona Republic on the executive order by Governor
    Brewer.
    Cesar
    stated repeatedly to Phoenix Police Officer he was a DACA applicant and was not
    subject to deportation anymore.  The police officer went ahead anyway. Cesar
    spent 22 hrs. at 4th Ave. Jail, his mug shot taken with the footnote
    "failure to show AZ driving license, ID " as an explanation and posted on the
    Maricopa County Sheriff Office (MCSO) website which shows the public how Joe is
    "tough on criminals".
    Cesar
    believes he could have been released a couple of times during the process, one
    when he was in front of the city judge, who declared being confused by the
    circumstances.  Finally, Cesar was released upon being transferred to ICE
    jurisdiction. His arrest and detention exposed bad policy: the diversion of law
    enforcement resources into a deportation case that proceeds no longer.
    Sadly,
    even DACA grantees (since Arizona will not be granting driver's licenses) will
    be safe from arrest and hours of detention. We may see legal challenges in the
    future due to this attempt to single out beneficiaries of legal presence. But
    at ADAC we question what the point is in harass, humiliate and put in danger
    young persons who had entrust our system by bringing forward their personal
    information through deferred action?
    The
    license plate issue?  It was a mistake of Arizona's Motor Vehicle Division
    which failed to update Cesar's vehicle information.
    Read related
    article by journalist Griselda Nervarez on VOXXI
    Carmen Cornejo
    CADENA-ADAC Arizona
    www.dreamactaz.org
  5. Chino The Baker

    The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
    Some days ago, during a DACA application
    drive organized by No DREAM Deferred Coalition, I found Chino...or Chino found
    me.
    He was neatly dressed with a crisp blue
    shirt, vest, slacks and shiny black shoes. He was polite, assertive and
    inquisitive. He had all the necessary documentation to demonstrate his presence
    in the USA since his arrival in a neatly organized binder.  He had done a
    better job collecting info than most applicants, yet his school records were
    missing.
    Since coming to Phoenix at age 15, Chino
    has been working as a baker. He has not been attending school in the USA,
     all efforts concentrating on being his family's  economic
    support.  His English is limited and needs to access  GED instruction
    in Spanish  urgently in order to qualify for DACA. There are few available GED classes in Spanish  in the Phoenix
    Metro area.
    Chino represents a minority of
     DREAM Act youth and for now Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
    applicants: most potential candidates have gone through the school
    system and are fluent in English, but not Chino and some few more.
    His situation present several
    challenges.  USCIS produced DACA information in Spanish and this is the link but
    most of the assumptions is that DACA applicants access the information in
    English and our volunteer, advocate efforts are focused on English speakers.
     We only explain the process in Spanish for the parents.
    In the last 6 months I only heard of 3
    cases of immigrant youth that hadn't have instruction in Spanish
    among the hundreds of young immigrants I come across. I believe Chino's
    situations is a extreme exception to the norm.  This is not
    scientific assessment, just  anecdotal.  
    On cases like Chino's we advocates need
    to step up to the challenge and provide extra guidance, caring support.
    I connected with him through e-mail
    after the initial meeting.  Thankfully he is not illiterate and has basic
    computer skills. He always ends his e-mails sending me blessings.
    I will make sure that, in spite of his
    limitations, he gets on the right track: GED in Spanish first, then English
    lessons, simultaneously DACA and possibly more. I hope he will be willing to
    follow my advise.
    Carmen Cornejo
    CADENA-ADAC Arizona
    www.dreamactaz.org
     
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