Ds Scholarship

Undocumented Students Still Need Support

It took Farah Said almost seven years to complete her undergraduate studies as an undocumented student in New York City. After enrolling in CUNY City Colleges Childhood Education Program and was told’ 113 credits, Said she could not graduate. Even though she had applied and was accepted to the program as an undocumented student, administration later informed her that she would not be able to complete the last, required part of the curriculum—student teaching. “Student teaching requires finger printing and finger printing requires a social security number, which I did not have,” says Said.

Said is among 51,000 undocumented students who currently reside in New York and of 569,000 in the United States. New research indicates that undocumented students account for approximately two percent of all students in higher education in the United States; These students are often encouraged to apply to the City University of New York. CUNY is known to offer specialized support for undocumented youth through programs like the Dream.US Scholarship, which grants up to $29,000 to students going for two- or four-year degrees at CUNY who are eligible to be covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA).

Said remembers when President Obama created DACA in 2012, but she was not eligible. Under DACA, people who immigrated to the United States as children and met specific guidelines could be allowed to work. It also enabled people without previous legal status to attend school and apply for loans without fear of deportation. But it did not make them citizens. Said met all the requirements to qualify for DACA, except one.

She immigrated to the United States from Cairo, Egypt, at the age of 15 in 2008; However, DACA recipients must have been present in the country by June 15, 2007. She was one year too late. “I held out hope that something would change…that the policy might change.”

And it almost did. In November of 2014, President Obama announced that an extension to DACA would be introduced. The revised program would include undocumented immigrants who entered the country prior to 2010, eliminating the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and lengthen the renewable deferral period to two years. Multiple states immediately sued to prevent the expansion of DACA, which was eventually blocked by an evenly divided US Supreme Court in United States v. Texas. After President Donald Trump’s election, the US Department of Homeland Security rescinded the expansion.

After switching her major twice and still not transferred being able to graduate, Said to City College’s Center for Worker Education and graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies of Arts and Science. “What do you do with that? I don’t know. I just needed to finish,” said Said.

Said is now a graduate student at CUNY City College, enrolled in the Bilingual Education Program on the non-certified track. “Even if you have the potential, the talent, the skill, and the knowledge to find a job, it’s hard as an undocumented student,” said Said.

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