Resources for Undocumented College Students

Working at University Career Services the past three years has offered me the opportunity to work with students who immigrated to the United States with their parents at a young age.  Often they ask questions about how to represent their work history on a resume and what are some of the entities that would sponsor them in obtaining a HB-1 Visa so they can continue to build skills and move along their career paths.  This motivated me to attend a professional training at Texas State University for staff and faculty on the issues faced by this population and the resources available to them (both on campus and off).

I do not ask students whether they are documented or not, but allow them to share such if they are comfortable.  As a university entity I am bound by rules and legislation to keep that information confidential and I would not want to violate this and the student’s trust.

Conversations about how to help college students who are undocumented began long ago.  We as a nation first began talking about The Dream Act in 2001.  The DREAM Act stands for Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors.  These are children who immigrated to the United States with their parents and are currently attending college.  We continue to talk about The DREAM Act, and as of today it has yet to pass legislation.  This act would allow for a six year conditional residency status for undocumented individuals who met specific criteria, including receipt of a high school diploma or GED and must be between 12 and 35 years old at the time of application.  Currently ten states have passed laws allowing undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition and Texas is one of them.  None of these states have experienced an influx of enrollment in higher education.  The DREAM Act is not amnesty.

This act would allow students to work legally in the United States, attend school and/or join the military.  These students would have the opportunity to not be forced into work as domestic workers, as day laborers or sweatshop factory workers.

If these students waited for documents like “everyone else” they would be waiting a long time and it could result in their career paths being put on hold.  The average wait time for a Green Card for a skilled worker is over 5 years.  For those who are siblings of US Citizens, the wait is 11-12 years.  I cannot imaging putting my career on hold for this long, can you?  The fee for hiring a skilled foreign-born professional is more than $3,000 for each individual.  When an entity agrees to sponsor a visa of this nature they are making an investment.  They must first prove a non-US Citizen is able to fill this position.

There is a movie that came out in 2009 that I would like to see, Papers.  http://www.papersthemovie.com/about_papers/index.html

As a result of today’s training I have more understanding of the challenges the students face and have some valuable resources to share with them.

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