Each year, countless people flee from their home countries and migrate to the United States with the illusion of fulfilling the American Dream – one of freedom and opportunities – which are not always readily available in other countries. Unfortunately, this dream is not legally accessible to all of these aspirants, some of whom experience great difficulty acquiring visas. As a result, many choose to take the risk of living in the United States without papers.
The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 11.4 million undocumented immigrants, most of whom emigrated from Central and South America, were living in the United States by 2012. As the quality of life in certain foreign countries continues to deteriorate, the number of unauthorized immigrants seeking better conditions continues to increase, as does the number of children with uncertain futures.
The previous administration responded with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects individuals who were brought to the United States as children, otherwise known as Dreamers. With this status, individuals are granted benefits that would be unavailable otherwise, such as the right to legally work in the United States without the threat of deportation.
While the program temporarily resolves some of the legal implications that come with being undocumented, DACA recipients are still not eligible for federal financial aid. Consequently, a great number of college-bound Dreamers are left with little to no funds for higher education.
The University of Miami subsequently formulated its own response.
This semester, for the first time in the school’s history, the U implemented the UDreamers program, which aims to assist eligible DACA recipients. It consists of a grant that promises to cover all the expenses of a UM education for Dreamers from the state of Florida. UM President Julio Frenk, who pledged to protect and assist these students, is establishing an extraordinary precedent that university leaders across the nation should be adopting as a response toward this pressing issue.
While I wish I could say that this program solves all the problems that Dreamers face, that’s not the reality. Underrepresented groups continue to be bruised by the hatred that roams the political landscape of the Trump era.
It’s clear that the University of Miami has taken a step in the right direction. As President Trump continues to toy with the idea of terminating DACA, recipients and advocates alike fight for a chance at the American Dream. The UDreamers program shatters an unnecessary educational barrier while embodying UM’s devotion to diversity.
Andrea Illan is a freshman majoring in journalism and political science.
See more coverage of the UDreamers program here.
Featured photo courtesy Pixabay user Pixource.