Dreaming of Home

How ISU is affected by DACA

By: Rachel O’Brien 

You have lived here your whole life. It is the only home you have ever known. All of your childhood memories took place on the same street. Your friends all live in the same town as you. Your family is here. It is your home, it is where your heart is. Then, one day you wake up and realize that you are no longer wanted here. You start to realize that the only home you have ever known is going to kick you out. To top it all off, you are only getting six months notice. This is the reality that DACA students within our community are currently facing.

Most dreamers, according to America’s Voice, are young people who qualify for the Dream Act and were brought to this country as children. It was a decision that was made for them that they would become undocumented immigrants. Being undocumented puts these children at a disadvantage their whole lives. Now, many dreamers are grown up. They are your fellow college students. They are your colleagues. They have worked hard to get to where they are. Yet, this change in legislation could crush all of their hard work.

When most students apply for college they also go ahead and apply for federal financial aid at the same time. However, because of their status, undocumented students are unable to apply for FAFSA. This results in paying more money out of pocket and having to work harder to pay off school. College tuition is already a huge burden, but not having federal aid just makes it that much harder. To accompany that, being undocumented means that jobs are not as easily accessible. So, they are unable to receive federal student loans and will have difficulty finding a job to pay for tuition out of pocket. No government money combined with being able to only work laborious jobs makes it nearly impossible for Dreamers to get a college education, yet they are disregarded for not contributing to a society that does nothing to help them. A society that hates them and wants to kick them out.

Iowa State University (ISU) is trying to do what it can to help its students. However, ISU does not specifically ask students what their citizenship status is, and for good reason. Because of this, ISU cannot reach out to specific students in order to help them. ISU must send information to a broad selection of students and rely on people passing the message along to show that they are here to help. However; if students ask for help, they will receive it.

For some students, this change could affect their status of being able to stay on campus. To aid in this, the multicultural center has been pairing students with attorneys in the Des Moines area in order to help educate students on their rights. When the change first came out, the interim president, Benjamin Allen, sent out an email to all students to inform them of where to go to receive help or to just talk. Many campus offices were listed to give a multitude of options of where students can go to discuss this topic. The Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion also held a “Know Your Rights” informational forum. This was held to help inform students of what students need to know in this time of uncertainty.

Kenyatta Shamburger, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Multicultural Student Affairs, said that ISU is in support of all of it’sits students. He said that campus is open to everyone, and that we do not discriminate. “There’s a lot of unknowns, I think a decision was made without a lot of detail and I think that adds to the anxiety for a lot of people,” Shamburger said in reference to the change.

Not only will a student’s campus life be affected by this change, but their home life will change as well. For some, they will be able to renew their DACA status. However, others will be rejected and not get their approval. Not only will this affect just that student, but their families as well. Having siblings under the Dream Act has caused some people to legally adopt their younger siblings in order to allow them to stay working and studying within the United States.

To even apply for DACA, you must pay a fee of $465. This status must also be renewed every two years. To be able to study and work here is more of an investment because of this fee. Now, with recent changes there is even more uncertainty on the renewal process and how many people will be granted their status.

Overall, the risk factor for these students is huge. Imagine being a senior in college about to graduate with your degree, and you discover that you no longer have your status in this country only two months before graduation. To risk it is scary, but so is throwing away years worth of hard work. “As a student you already have the pressure of being a student, class, papers, all of that, now you’re adding this personal safety component,” said Shamburger.

When your government officials are making racist claims, others start to believe it. It gives you a pretty good idea of how wanted you are within your home. So, next time you hear these stereotypes, please remember that undocumented immigrants are people too. They are your peers, your college roommates, your neighbors and friends. They are doctors, lawyers, scholars and students, but most of all they are people.