Report highlights strain on undocumented students, opportunities for colleges to boost support

New survey results published by TheDream.US indicate that 71 percent of undocumented immigrant students work while in college. Of those working students, 29 percent report working full-time, and eighty-nine percent report attending school full-time. In comparison, 43 percent of U.S. undergraduates overall work in some capacity while attending college.

Pointing to these findings—and the other pressures shouldered by undocumented students—the report calls on colleges and universities to designate staff and establish programs to better address undocumented student needs.

No time for basic needs

TheDream.US is an organization that provides scholarships and support for students who hold or are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

Since the organization’s survey of more than 1,400 of its Scholars revealed that many both work full-time and attend school full-time, one can conclude that “they are not necessarily sleeping,” Gaby Pacheco, program director for advocacy, development, and fundraising at TheDream.US, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. Lengthy commutes by car or bus also take a toll—for instance, on students’ nutrition. “Sometimes people don’t have the luxury to drive home between classes or drive through a restaurant to get something to eat,” said Pacheco. Among survey respondents, 43 percent said they had experienced food insecurity in the last year, and most felt they would become food insecure if they lost their immigration status.

The report also shows that 34 percent of Scholars provide some sort of financial support to their families, 83 percent are “very anxious” about their immigration status, and 86 percent worry about the legal status of their family.

Supporting undocumented students’ mental and physical health

Given these findings, TheDream.US highlights opportunities for colleges and universities to better support their undocumented student populations, such as establishing resource centers with staffers knowledgeable about the specific obstacles facing undocumented students. The organization also encourages institutions to connect immigrant students with mental and physical health services, provide career mentoring, expand financial support and services, increase food security, and expand access to graduate school.

The Chronicle, meanwhile, highlights related efforts underway at U.S. schools, including University of California, Davis’s standalone center for undocumented students and Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Immigrant Services Program.

Support for undocumented students at Georgetown

As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, Georgetown values the dignity of all members of our university community, regardless of immigration status, and has committed to supporting undocumented students and the unique challenges they may face. Watch this video to learn more and visit undocumented.georgetown.edu.

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