On April 29, more than 260 organizations and institutions addressed a letter to the Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, urging her to reconsider the decision to exclude Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients from benefiting from over $6 billion in federal COVID-19 aid.
The letter pulls no punches: it refers to the ‘unfair and grotesque abdication of responsibility by the federal government, as well as an immoral disregard for human life.’
The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) will receive just short of $60 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, and thousands of students have already been offered an automatic grant, based on their known circumstances. However, DACA students – and those exclusively enrolled as online students – face a federal bar to seeking aid.
Sanaa Abrar, Advocacy Director of United We Dream, a youth-led network that promotes empowerment, justice and dignity for immigrants, called the move: ‘callous and unnecessary.’
Co-signatory, Oliva Golden, is the Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a non-profit, non-partisan, anti-poverty advocacy organization that works to improve the lives of people on low-incomes and lacking economic security.
“We all have a stake in ensuring that undocumented and DACA students get the emergency aid they need to pursue their studies, keep food on their tables and a roof over their heads, as well as provide for their families. We are all connected, and immigrant students and their families are critical to our ability to fight this virus and to come out a stronger and more united nation.”
– Olivia Golden, Executive Director, CLASP
It’s another blow to a group already facing the stress of the pending U.S. Supreme Court decision, and fiscal hardship (undocumented students are already excluded from other federal relief aid) but there is compassion and practical action from some quarters.
The University of California and California State University (CSU) acted swiftly, saying that they would use their own funds to provide relief to vulnerable DACA students excluded by the decision.
The CSU response is decisive and inspirational. Pulling together and exercising kindness makes for a better society. As a community and as individuals, we can never afford to turn a blind eye to people who need support.
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