They oppose Gov. De Santis intent to rescind access to in-state tuition for undocumentes students

Information Session at the Poveda Center and on-line participation

MIAMI, Florida.-  To support young immigrants identified as Dreamers in their efforts to maintain the benefit of in-state tuition at public colleges and universities,  the Poveda Center in Miami together with Youth ACT  Miami, invited some of the young leaders on March 25th to present their case and the course of action they are following to have legislators in their favor.

They need to do so given that Florida Gov. Ron De Santis announced, late in February, a plan to rescind a 2014  House Bill (H.B.) 851  signed into law by then Gov. Rick Scott, with strong bipartisan support, that allows undocumented students, including DACA recipients, living in Florida, to access in-state tuition .Undocumented students must apply for an out-of-state fee waiver.

Julio Calderon during the presentation

Dreamers were brought to the United States by their parents as children. They have grown and  gone to high school here and they are called ‘Dreamers’ after the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which was introduced in 2001.

At their presentation March 25th  leaders from TheDream.US shared about their  trips to Tallahassee to meet with legislators and present their case. They are asking supporters to call their representatives and express clearly their opposition to this measure.

Armando Carrada shares about the visit to Tallahassee

They are against it because it would not allow Dreamers to continue to higher studies. This is so because the  average  tuition of $6,000 annually, would jump to $22,000. The measure would also negatively affect Floridas´economy. 

According to the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC)  to rescind in-state rates would ultimately result in Florida taking an economic hit in the years to come. They underscore that:

• DACA recipients have paid $329 million into state and local taxes since 2013 and will earn a collective $19.5 billion in wages through 2032, with $19.5 billion of that going to state and local taxes. 

No matter if a person is undocumented or not, they contribute to the education system with the state taxes.

• Earnings for those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree average $27,000 and $40,000 higher, respectively, than earnings of peers with only high school diplomas. This added income translates to more tax revenues and more in-state spending.

• Additionally, in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants who graduated high school in Florida costs the state little money, as undocumented students make up only 3 percent of the state’s public post-secondary system.

• It’s estimated that Florida’s DACA recipients earned $3.6 billion in wages and contributed nearly $330 million to state and local taxes between 2013 and 2022. 

Gaby Pacheco a former Dreamer now Directs The Dream.US

At the March 26 information meeting at the Poveda Center, Gaby Pacheco, former Dreamer and now Director of Advocacy, Communications and Development at TheDream. US shared her story and pointed out that this is not “just about Young people having access to education. When people are doing welll and succeeding the community is also doing well”.

Pachecho was brough to this country from Ecuador in 1993, when she was seven years old. Her parents had often come to the US in business. She excelled in school participating in cross country, basketball, track and field team and the orchestra.

When she was 16 years old, in 2009 she walked from Miami to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness about the plight of Dreamers. And she has been part of all the  moments in this plight. She has recalled all the  steps in a  piece published by Newsweek in 2021.

In 2010, “I watched and cried from the Senate balcony” as the DREAM Act received 55 votes in the Senate but failed to become law due to a filibuster.

In 2012, “I cheered when former President Barack Obama announced DACA”, that provided protections from deportation, work permits and new opportunities for immigrant youth.

Gaby, Armando, Aquiles and Julio at the Tallahassee Capitol

In 2017, “I feared for  friends, family and the TheDream.US scholars when the Trump administration announced its intentions to end the DACA program”.

And in 2020, she celebrated  when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to do so was unlawful.

At her presentations she pointed out that “TheDream.US has graduated over 470 students, which translates into millions of dollars in spending power and tax revenue from this educated demographic. 

For her,  the fight “ is not about politics, but about human beings”.  

Domini gives his testimony

This becomes very real upon listening to all the personal stories .  Stories as the one of Julio Calderon now lead student organizer with ABIC and TheDream.US. Or  that of Armando Carrada, now a Small Business Owner,  who recently travelled to  Tallahassee “telling our stories and making sure they know we are present and that we are helping the community”.

Aquiles, arrived in Miami from Venezuela  when he was 11 years old. Now  under  Temporary Protected Status he is a student  in film editing and broadcast journalism at FIU  but fears he will not be able to graduate. The session at the Poveda Center allowed   him to share his concerns and also allowed other dreamers  to speak via Zoom.

Pinita and Guadalupe on-line

 Pinita,The Dream.US Scholar and her sister Guadalupe  offered a poignant testimonies about initially blaming their parents for having brought them to this country and realizing, after graduation from high school, that they could not attend college in spite of having received several scholarships. Pinita did finish her studies at a Technical College but could not receive a certificate because she was undocumented. 

“They are playing with our life. Why not give to us what we deserve? We are here and we work hard,” she said.

Other testimonies were displayed on large posters around the room. 

Pacheco was proudly wearing a t-shirt with large letters and numbers: PROP.308, an Arizona Proposition allowing non-citizen students to receive in-state college tuition when a student (a) attended school in Arizona for at least two years and (b) graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in Arizona. The measure was approved with President Obama’s endorsement.

The FloridaPolicy Institute has pointed out that: “Repealing the state’s tuition equity law would impede young immigrants’ ability to thrive, earn higher wages, and contribute further to Florida’s economic prosperity.

According to the  National Immigration Law Center, at least 22 states and Washington, D.C., already had tuition-equity laws before the 2022 midterms. That includes the states of California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. And while most of these students would like to apply for  “green card” to legalize their status, many cannot because they don’t qualify under the current restrictive immigration laws or must wait many years before they can.  ( A.Cantero)