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Seeking Sanctuary: How Schools Can Protect and Advocate for Undocumented Students

Undocumented students join a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program outside the Edward Roybal Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles Friday, Sept. 1, 2017.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes.

  • Read the full issue brief.

Across the United States, over 100,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year, but only 30,000 are likely to enroll in higher education programs. And of those, just 2,000 graduate from college each year. The unique barriers undocumented students face threaten to keep the ivory tower of higher education—and the doors that tower unlocks—just a dream for many undocumented students. Institutions of higher education must do everything they can to ensure undocumented students not only have access to a safe campus where they can learn without fear of being deported but where they have access to the resources, such as peer mentorship and support networks, that will allow them to thrive.

Notably, these resources and policies cannot simply be implemented—one of the largest barriers facing undocumented students applying to and enrolled in college is a lack of information about the different resources and policies each school has concerning undocumented students. Therefore, these policies must be implemented and then advertised to undocumented students, empowering them with the information needed to attend a school that will welcome them. To identify best practices and policies, Generation Progress surveyed 24 schools representing over 250,000 students during the spring and summer of 2016 to determine what schools were already doing to support their undocumented student populations, and what practices have been most helpful. After surveying these colleges, both public and private, two-year and four-year, Generation Progress has identified key policies—based on practices already in place at many schools—all colleges and universities must enact to fully open the gates of higher education to undocumented students.

Correction: Generation Progress’ survey of colleges and universities took place in the spring and summer of 2017, not 2016.

Read the issue brief for Generation Progress’ full recommendations.

Now more than ever, we need to do all we can to make college campuses a safe and supportive environment for undocumented students and make sure they have the resources they need to earn their degrees without exceptional risk and financial hardship.

Download this toolkit to help organize your campus to better aid and advocate for policies at colleges and universities that support undocumented students. How you choose to go about your advocacy can and should be unique to your capabilities and strategic thinking, but we hope this toolkit will help guide you as you work to affect change!

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