She is getting her Ph.D. in education policy, evaluation, and reform at Claremont Graduate University in California, where she’s among a group of four undocumented students who support each other. “In general, a lot has changed since my days at Harvard,” she says.
In 2012, the Obama administration announced that youth who’d arrived in the United States as children could request consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows them to stay in the country two years at a time and to work. Free from fear of deportation, at least in the short run, an untold number of these young people are enrolling in institutions of higher education. At the same time, on college campuses and in middle and high schools, there’s far more advocacy and support. The year after Montiel graduated, Act on a Dream, a student-run group for undocumented undergraduates and their allies, launched at Harvard College to provide information and community; it currently has about 25 members. Similar clubs and support networks are growing across the country.
But financing higher education remains a huge challenge. While a sizable number of states now offer in-state tuition to undocumented students, and some private universities are targeting them for special assistance, it’s not an easy path.
“I feel very fortunate and thankful to Harvard because it was a dream I had since I was 12,” Montiel says. “Being undocumented, that was unheard of, and I’m just very thankful for everything. But, in general online payday OH, she says, many colleges and universities across the country have to make an intentional effort to make financial aid opportunities available for students, rather than just admitting them. “That,” she says “is only half the battle.”
An estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States today, and their fates – especially as the 2016 presidential election looms – is a highly contentious issue. Ensnared in this political battle are the approximately 2.1 million youth – 1 million of them now adults – brought to the United States as children by their families and whose futures hang in the air.
This cohort of undocumented children and youth is fairly new, explains Roberto Gonzales, an assistant professor at the Ed School, who, as one of the nation’s leading experts on undocumented youth and young adults, has been studying this group for 23 years. 7 million undocumented immigrants received legal status, in what was the last comprehensive national effort on this front. At the same time, the government beefed up security at the borders, making it much harder for seasonal workers – most from Mexico – to travel back and forth. When they began bringing their families into the United States to stay, a new social problem was born.
In 1986, under President Ronald Reagan, 2
Until they graduate high school, undocumented children in the United States are pretty well protected (although their parents are not). In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe held that undocumented children have the legal right to a K–12 education, and schools cannot release information about them to immigration authorities. But until DACA, those rights ended after high school, making the transition to adulthood jarring and frightening.
Although 56 percent of Americans think they should be allowed to apply for citizenship, 29 percent think they should be deported, according to a 2014 New York Times/CBS News poll
Assimilated into American schools and internalizing American beliefs, these youth may not think about their legal status until they learn they can’t get a driver’s license or a social security number in order to work.