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DACA Field Report

Arizona’s Prop 300, Its Effect On GED Seekers And Future DACA Applicants

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The following DACA field report comes from Carmen Cornejo of Dream Act Arizona:


About two years ago I was asked by a non-profit organization
to craft an advocacy agenda on education issues since my work for the DREAM Act
eligible youth is well known in Arizona, and immigrant youth is such an important
part our education system and communities. 
One of the issues I brought up to the surprise of my fellow board
members was the concern for Arizona's high dropout rate among Hispanics and the
need to make stronger efforts promoting the integration of those individuals
through GED certification programs. 


According to a 2010
study by Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
around 100,000 undocumented youth
live in Arizona, at different educational levels. Currently Arizona has an
average High School
completion rate of 72.5%
being the Hispanic community the one with the highest
percentage of High Schools drop outs. One of the factors that without doubt  influence the below national average
completion rates for High School is that many of the students attending K-12
education are undocumented and get discouraged to continue their education by  the implementation of anti immigrant laws that
put barriers to accessing post-secondary education.


In 2007 the Arizona voters passed Prop.
300
, one of the first state anti-immigrant laws to target the education of
undocumented students.  Prop 300 denied
state funding for undocumented students and practically tripled the tuition to
post secondary education for students that could not prove legal status in
Arizona. Other of the lesser known educational elements this proposition
affected was adult education. 


DREAM Advocates like myself always tried to encourage young
immigrants to finish their High School and obtain a diploma since K-12
education has been protected by Supreme Court ruling Plyler v. Doe and our knowledge of the effects of Prop 300 on
remedial tools as adult education, GED instruction certification and post
secondary education in general.


President Obama's announcement on June 15th 2012 granting
legal presence to undocumented young immigrants though Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the subsequent guidelines issued brought a new and
sudden interest in GED education. Now the minimal educational requirement for
DACA applicants is a high school diploma or a GED.  According to USCIS guidelines and
interpretation from practicing immigration lawyers, young immigrants can apply
to DACA when they can probe they are enrolled in a GED program.


Suddenly this tool for remedial certification became
important for many.  Demand overwhelmed
the current GED outlets, burdened by the limitations imposed by Prop 300. Institutions
and non-profit organizations have been revising their models for offering GED
to future DACA applicants and at three months of the DACA announcement, slowly started
to increase the number of GED classes On Line and in regular classroom
settings.  Institutions have been
revising enrollment, funding and id requirements in order to be compliant with
prop. 300. Due to Prop. 300 GED programs in Arizona are not being offered for
free for people who cannot prove legal status.  State money is not being allocated for these
classes.  The Arizona Department of
education has issued guidelines to ID requirements when the GED classes and
tests are being paid for. Young immigrants seeking GED instruction and
certification in order to apply for DACA have being confronted with
unscrupulous organizations or businesses that offer instruction for high price
and which accreditations is questionably. Established GED outlets from
community colleges and school districts are starting to offer tuition options,
some of them making extraordinary efforts to offer instruction for an affordable
cost. 


Using social media tools DREAM Act advocates like myself,
are communicating these options for GED seekers since we have little to no-resources. 


In spite of the obstacles we are determined to integrate
more young immigrants to the GED instruction so they can apply to the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process and increase the educational level
of this segment of the population.  This
is an opportunity we all can benefit from. 


Carmen
Cornejo


CADENA-ADAC
Arizona


www.dreamactaz.org


 


 

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