News: Federal Policy & Advocacy

DACA, Undocumented Students Not Eligible for Emergency Aid

Monday, April 27, 2020  
Posted by: Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy
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Our students with DACA status received two pieces of distressing news last week: 1) They are not eligible for emergency aid funds provided by the federal government to colleges, and 2) deportation agents have access to their personal information, including name and address.

On the education-specific front, a week ago, the U.S. Department of Education provided Frequently Asked Questions on eligibility and administration for the emergency aid that Congress provided for colleges to use in response to the coronavirus. In order to receive some of these emergency aid dollars from their institutions, students must be Title IV aid eligible.

Title IV is the section of the Higher Education Act that governs eligibility for Pell Grants and federal student loans, among other types of aid, and establishes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). (Students do not have to have filed the FAFSA to receive the coronavirus emergency aid, but they must eligible to do so.) DACA recipients and undocumented individuals are not eligible for Title IV funds, which means they are not eligible for the new infusion of emergency cash to institutions.

NCAN highly encourages DACAmented students in need to contact their financial aid offices. Some universities are using non-federal dollars to provide emergency grant support to DACA and undocumented students.

Beyond education, ProPublica reported this week that internal emails from the Department of Homeland Security pointedly said that deportation agents have access to a database that contains personal information about DACA recipients, including when their work permits expire as well as their addresses. The information was released under the Freedom of Information Act as part of a lawsuit.

The Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, had guaranteed that DACA recipients’ information would not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to sources in the article, agents cannot create and export long lists of individuals, but if targeting an individual for a different reason, they can use the database to find specific information about them.

This time is particularly fraught for our DACA recipient students with these two pieces of news coming in the weeks preceding the U.S. Supreme Court decision about the legality of the DACA program. That decision is expected before June 30, the end of the court’s current session.

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