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New Data Resource Equips Policymakers, Higher Ed to Support Immigrant Students

Some 17 states have comprehensive access to in-state tuition and financial aid for undocumented students. (Victoria Pickering/Flickr)
Some 17 states have comprehensive access to in-state tuition and financial aid for undocumented students. (Victoria Pickering/Flickr)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Researchers are finding ways to clear up misconceptions and support undocumented students, Dreamers, and international and refugee students, as lawmakers consider reforms to immigration and higher-ed policy.

The President's Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration has launched a new portal compiling federal and state data on the students they aim to serve, as well as policy positions and best practices.

Gaby Pacheco – director of advocacy, communications, and development with TheDream.US – said the data is key for fighting misinformation about immigrants, including but not limited to what she calls the "fear-mongering" of the previous administration.

"And it helps young people across the country who are are feeling the sense that they don't belong, or that the country doesn't want them,” said Pacheco, “that in actuality, that's not the case."

Members of the U.S. House are reintroducing the American Dream and Promise Act, which includes a path to citizenship for young immigrants. And a bipartisan group of senators has reintroduced the Dream Act.

Plus, multiple state legislatures are considering whether to provide in-state tuition and financial aid to undocumented students.

Pacheco, a former Dreamer, pointed to polling that shows a majority of Americans favor a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.

"One in three students in college right now is either a first- or second-generation immigrant or an international student,” said Pacheco, “And so, we're keeping these colleges alive; we're the ones going in and paying the tuition and fees and, and sitting in these classrooms."

Miriam Feldblum – executive director and co-founded of the President's Alliance – said the data vary state to state, as some collect more comprehensive information than others.

"One of the questions we hear,” said Feldblum, “is 'Well, how many students are impacted by this legislation? How does it impact students in my state? What are the obstacles or practices that can help students?'"

She said she hopes in addition to policymaking, educators and administrators can use the data to reflect on ways they can support their own undocumented or international students at the campus level.