KIPP Schools Say DACA Limbo Puts Access To College At Risk

ByCamille Phillips, TPR

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KIPP San Antonio and KIPP charter schools across the country advocated Wednesday for permanent protection from deportation for immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

School leaders said President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program makes it more difficult for DACA students to go to college.

A third federal judge ruled Tuesday that DACA was lawful and gave the Department of Homeland Security 90 days to make a better argument or start processing new applications. An earlier ruling required DHS to process DACA renewals.

But KIPP officials said DACA students remain in limbo until Congress passes a permanent solution.

“(Our DACA students) have a legal standing that is tumultuous and has a dramatic impact on their ability to go to college and their ability to stay in the country,” KIPP San Antonio CEO Mark Larson said. “And the risk is even greater, as we know, for the DACA students than for some of our undocumented students, because the DACA students have told the government where they are.”

During a news conference, a KIPP University Prep senior said she didn’t know if she’ll be able to complete a four-year degree because her DACA status expires in November and will expire again two years later.

The student, who KIPP gave the pseudonym Veronica to protect her identity, said she applied to renew her status, but is waiting for it to be approved.

“The uncertainty affects me because we don’t know what you can or can’t plan for,” she said. “Now I don’t even know if I can attend college.”

She wants to go to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, but she has to wait until this summer to see if she’ll get enough financial aid to afford it.

KIPP college counselor Eduardo Sesatty said Texas DACA students are eligible for state aid, but “usually colleges will award everybody else and then award DACA students afterwards.”

“In June, their peers have been deciding where to go and they’re still waiting to know whether they’re even getting enough money,” Sesatty said. “And that situation sometimes may lead to students saying, ‘Well, I’ll go to community college because it’s cheaper, or in other cases I’m just going to have to work, I’m just going to have to find monies to pay for college later.’’’

Sesatty said applying for state aid is time consuming and complicated because every Texas university has a different paper application process, unlike the online application for federal student aid most students use.

He said KIPP San Antonio and KIPP Austin created a database of each university’s instructions and shared it with the San Antonio, Northeast, Northside, Southwest and Harlandale school districts.