The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:
GED seekers are confronting serious obstacles in Arizona. The State Legislature has been cutting Adult Education budgets to the point of starvation and Prop.300 denied public funding for undocumented youth since 2007. The remedial high school certification landscape is a difficult one for citizen and undocumented immigrants alike.
Many persons who are reaching out to me seeking information for GED instruction are young mothers in their early 20s who dropped out of high school due to pregnancy and now find difficult to find GED instruction to re-enter education. USCIS willingness to accept enrollment to GED programs for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants without a High School diploma is suddenly increasing the demand and urgency for GED classes by these individuals.
Here is a list of challenges GED seekers are finding in Arizona and specially Maricopa County:
Decreased funding. GED instruction has been severely de-funded. In 2010, Governor Brewer signed a budget that eliminated the $4.5 million appropriation for Adult Education and GED Testing. When Arizona eliminated this GED funding, it also lost $11 million in matching funds from the Federal government.
On line classes. Some GED outlets at Community Colleges only offer on-line classes to undocumented youth which may be a challenging setting for low proficiency students.
Students with different levels of proficiency.
GED instructors need to assess different levels of proficiency. It
may take real commitment and monetary investment
from some students to make up for lost time, acquire a GED certification and then apply for DACA.
Bureaucratic barriers. Community colleges in Maricopa County (one of the largest in the nation) took time to implement new Arizona Department of Education’s ID policies and their own internal guidelines and denied GED instruction to some, especially during the first weeks after August the 15th. Some Community Colleges’ personnel in Maricopa County are not properly trained to offer consistent, non-intrusive enrollment procedures and question about immigration status, SS#.
Different programs, funding and models create confusion. Non-profits are creating their own models to offer tuition based GED programs for people seeking to apply to DACA and comply with Prop. 300 at the same time.
Potential for fraud. Some organizations, charter schools are charging up to 4,500 for “High School Diplomas”; others offer “too good to be true” on-line classes. It may be difficult for immigrant youth to assess the adequate “intensity and integrity” of a GED, High School competition program, putting the burden of proof on the undocumented youth for DACA purposes.
Uneven production of enrollment documents to apply for DACA. GED outlets are still figuring out the production of documentation and receipts helpful for DACA applicants.
DREAM ActVolunteer non-profit organizations, CADENA, The Arizona DREAM Act Coalition and Tucson based Scholarships A-Z are taking the task to guide GED seekers in order to have a better educated workforce for the state and to have young immigrants, so many times forgotten, applying for DACA.