Unauthorized immigrant students face high hurdles post-graduation, survey finds
Higher Ed Dive
December 6, 2021
A new survey of nearly 1,000 unauthorized immigrant students who completed undergraduate degrees reveals the obstacles they face post-graduation, including barriers that impede their ability to find work or enroll in graduate programs.
TheDream.US, a scholarship and advocacy organization for unauthorized immigrant students, polled 998 of its alumni in February and March of this year. While 85% of the graduates said they had jobs, a lack of access to occupational licenses prevented some from working in their chosen occupations.
More than half of alumni said they were interested in graduate school. But just 17% said they were able to enroll in a program and complete their degree, with many citing finances as a major hurdle.
The report casts light on how unauthorized immigrant students are faring in the workplace and graduate school as two major events unfold affecting this population. One is the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which has hit the employment levels of foreign-born workers harder than those of native-born workers in the U.S. And the other is the presidency of Joe Biden, whose proposed policies are much friendlier toward unauthorized students than actions under former President Donald Trump.
Trump took steps to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children to study and work with temporary protection from deportation as long as they renew with the program every two years. One of Biden’s first actions as president was to sign an executive order to preserve DACA.
Nearly nine in 10 of the surveyed students said they are protected under DACA.