Scholarship program: 80 percent of student ‘Dreamers’ have lost income

A scholarship program that caters to undocumented students and those with temporary work permits is reporting that 80 percent of its beneficiaries have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a survey of scholarship recipients by TheDream.US, 76 percent of its beneficiaries also work, and of the 80 percent who’ve lost income, half have temporarily lost their jobs altogether.

The program reports that another 7 percent have permanently lost their jobs, while 23 percent have had reduced hours and 21 percent reported no change.

TheDream.US provides scholarships for students who don’t have permanent legal immigration status in the United States, commonly known as “Dreamers,” including beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status programs.

In a survey of scholarship recipients titled “In Their Own Words” released exclusively to The Hill, TheDream.US found that its scholarship recipients are suffering the effects of the economic slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“ ‘In Their Own Words’ not only reminds us that DREAMers are facing heightened health worries and economic anxieties due to the impact of COVID-19, but are doing so while their own futures remain uncertain due to the precarious state of DACA,” said Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US.

The more than 700,000 current DACA beneficiaries could lose their status — which allows them to temporarily reside and work in the United States — depending on the results of a pending Supreme Court decision.

The Obama-era program was rescinded by President Trump in September of 2017 but has been kept alive through lower courts, which have held Trump’s order at bay.

TheDream.US’s scholarship is mainly aimed at DACA beneficiaries, who cannot receive many of the monetary aids available to their U.S.-born peers, including Pell Grants and federal education loans or work study, and in many cases must pay out-of-state tuition even in the states where they reside.

According to the survey of scholarship recipients, 65 percent report needing help to pay rent and utilities, and 48 percent report needing help to purchase food or meals.

Of the survey respondents who reported losing their jobs temporarily, 75 percent said they are receiving no income at all, while 17 percent reported receiving reduced pay, and 8 percent said they’re receiving full pay.

A provision to extend DACA benefits, as well as other temporary migratory status, was proposed by Democrats in the third coronavirus relief package, but was shot down by Republicans.

The administration, through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Monday it would allow the use of existing biometric information in work permit renewal applications.

That move could potentially allow hundreds or thousands of DACA beneficiaries to avoid losing their status while USCIS is closed to the public on account of the health emergency.

“At a time when we are all in this fight against Covid-19 together and are thankful for the ongoing contributions of the 27,000 DACAmented healthcare workers and other immigrants at the frontlines of our recovery and containment efforts, we should be sure that Dreamers are included in ongoing efforts to support and stabilize the economy, including by extending DACA status,” said Marshall.

The survey was answered by 1,679 of TheDream.US’s more than 3,700 scholars between March 23 and 24.

Tags Coronavirus DACA Donald Trump economy Education Immigration Scholarships
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