Faces of Dreamers: Yael Balbuena, Deya Garcia, and other Arizona Dreamers

February 11, 2019

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This is one in a series of posts on individual Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as young children, many of whom are under threat of deportation following the Trump administration’s decision in September 2017 to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.

Yael Balbuena and Deya Garcia are Dreamers advocating for better access to higher education. Recently, they met with their Arizona state representatives to discuss the challenge of affording college, given the Arizona Supreme Court decision in April 2018 that determined DACA recipients were no longer eligible for in-state tuition.

According the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, 20 states and the District of Columbia allow in-state tuition to undocumented students. At the other end of the spectrum, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and South Carolina have laws denying in-state tuition to undocumented residents.

PRI’s “The World” covered a visit by more than 200 immigrant high schoolers, college students, and allies to the Arizona state capitol last month, which both Balbuena and Garcia attended.

Balbuena is a high school senior who had hoped to go to Arizona State University but now cannot afford it. He explained to his legislator how he now planned to attend an out-of-state private college that offered him a scholarship.

“It is just really hard to go through this,” Balbuena said, “because I’ve done all the things I’m required to.”

Deya Garcia is a student at Mesa Community College (MCC) studying biology. MCC is part of the Maricopa Community College District, where enrollment by students with DACA status has dropped by 65 percent in the last year, likely due to the significant increase in tuition caused by the court decision.

“It was really disappointing,” Garcia said. “To know that you were so prepared to continue on to college. And then having your education be threatened, for what felt like the billionth time.”

Click here to read more.

—Carly O’Connell

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There is bipartisan support in Congress for legislation providing permanent protection for Dreamers and for passing such a measure by the end of the year. Contact Congress now to make your voice heard on this vital issue.

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