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Education Dept Releases Resource Guide for Undocumented Students

The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday released a resource guide to help undocumented students and educators ensure that young people are on a pa
Image: Graduating students listen to U.S. President Obama speak during commencement at the University of Michigan
File photo of university students at commencement. KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters

The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday released a resource guide to help undocumented students and educators ensure that young people are on a path to academic success regardless of their immigration status.

The guide is designed to help teachers, counselors and other school staff know how they can better support undocumented students, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides a work permit and deportation reprieve to undocumented youth who came to the United States as children without legal permission.

“We know undocumented youth face unique challenges, and we also know that educators and other caring adults in schools and colleges can play a major role in helping all students, including undocumented students, to achieve at the highest levels,” Deputy Education Secretary John King said in a statement. King, who takes over as acting secretary when Education Secretary Arne Duncan steps down at the end of the year, announced the resource guide during a roundtable with undocumented students at San Francisco State University, where advisers are helping them learn about financial aid and other resources that the university offers them.

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The resource guide clarifies the legal rights that undocumented students have and makes it clear that all children, regardless of immigration status, have the right to attend public schools for K-12. It also provides information about financial aid and scholarships that are available to undocumented students, as well as the steps colleges and universities can take to create a welcoming environment for undocumented students.

In addition, the guide lays out what educators can do to support undocumented youth in applying for DACA consideration or renewal. More than 680,000 undocumented young immigrants have been approved for DACA, but there are still many who haven’t applied for consideration or renewal. There are also hundreds of thousands more who will become eligible in the coming years once they turn 15.

“We strongly encourage those who might be eligible for DACA to use this resource guide,” said Leon Rodríguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency that oversees the DACA program.

The resource guide also highlights what several cities have done to support undocumented students. Among the cities that made the list is Chicago, Illinois, where the Mayor’s Office of New Americans and the Chicago Public Schools launched summer training to teach counselors about DACA and the higher education options available to undocumented students.

Furthermore, the guide points to a number of resources created by public and private organizations that educators can use to support undocumented students. The resources include links, toolkits and guides on how high schools can help undocumented students succeed academically, the struggles these students face and they ways to help them complete a college education, just to mention a few.

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