Education requirements deter many would-be ‘Dreamers,’ activists say

Aug 31, 2014 by

Naira Zapata might seem a typical candidate for the Obama administration’s deferred deportation program. Her family smuggled her across the U.S.-Mexican border when she was 12.

But Zapata, now 20, dropped out of high school three years ago after giving birth to her first child. She never received her diploma, hindered by poor finances and having to care for her two young children. She still lives with her parents in Phoenix.

Zapata is a sharp departure from what immigrant rights organizers once presented as a poster child for those who would benefit from Obama’s immigration relief program: a high school graduate clad in a cap and gown, bound for the Ivy League.

Instead, Zapata is representative of those left behind. An estimated 426,000 young people nationwide meet all but one of the requirements of the immigration program launched two years ago: a high school diploma or GED.

Stifled by financial strain and discouraged by misinformation and a perception that they don’t fit the image of the ideal recipient, many fail to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA, as the program is known, gives a work permit and deportation reprieve to people who were brought to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

In response, immigrant rights activists are making a big push to get more people like Zapata to return to school.

Yadira Garcia, lead field organizer for an outreach campaign in Phoenix, said one of the biggest challenges is getting potential applicants to see themselves as “Dreamers,” as youth brought into the country as children are often called.

via Education requirements deter many would-be ‘Dreamers,’ activists say – LA Times.

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