The Dream Act & It's Affects on Latinos

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Nathaly Martinez
Katie Vater
Latino Studies
18 December 2012
The DREAM Act and It’s Effects
Out of the about 314,932,531 people that live in the United States of America (Census Bureau Homepage) 52 million of them are of Hispanic/Latino origin. (Facts for Features: Hispanic Heritage Month 2012). Of those 52 million Latinos only 2,352,000 are either currently enrolled in college or have earned a college degree (Hispanic Student Enrollments Reach New Highs in 2011, 12). That leaves us to wonder about the other 49,648,000 Latinos. Common reasons Latinos do not attend college vary from economic standings, to cultural purposes, to immigration statuses. However, a bipartisan legislation called The Dream Act is attempting to give illegal Hispanic immigrants an opportunity to attend college. This paper will concentrate on how the inability to attend college is negatively affecting Latinos within the United States, in what way The DREAM Act will positively and negatively affect America, and how the issue is being dealt with currently. The emotional and social hardships that undocumented students face are immense. To begin with, migration is a large stressor. Transitioning from one country to another may cause stressors such as “loss of close relationships, housing problems, a sense of isolation, obtaining legal documentation, going through the acculturation process, learning the English language, negotiating their ethnic identity, changing family roles, and adjusting to school experience”. Challenges that Hispanic children and adolescents specifically face includes “separation from relatives and friends, feeling pressured to speak only Spanish at home, living in a home with many people, and feeling that other kids make fun of the way they speak English” (Pérez 9). Undocumented adolescents, when compared to documented adolescents, were found to have a higher risk of anxiety. A mixed family is a family where some members have legal status and others do not. These types of families were found to have a higher risk of both anxiety and depressive symptoms. When undocumented Latinos pass adolescence they still face fear, depression and anxiety in their adulthood. And then when Latinos reach college age they continue to face worries of deportation, loneliness, and depression (Pérez 9). The fear of deportation is so significant that it influences almost every aspect of their lives. It controls their heath, working conditions, and emotional relationships. Some student’s fear of deportation overcomes their concern for their own heath so much so that they won’t even go to the hospital when necessary. As for their working conditions; they will continue to work in bad conditions worrying that they will be unable to find another job. Furthermore, students view that developing a close, emotional relationship with others could possibly reveal their illegal status thus they are hesitant to foster these types of relationships (Pérez 9-10). However, even after all of these stressors, undocumented students often succeed in accumulating the required academic record to be accepted into college. Sometimes the problem for Latino students isn’t about being accepted into college but actually being able to go. For many families in the U.S. it is difficult to send their children to school because of economic reasons. This too is case for many Hispanic students and this difficulty is compounded by the fact that they are not able to legally receive state or federal financial aid, unless they live in New Mexico or in Texas. And in the most extreme cases, states such as Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina have attempted to ban undocumented young adults from access to their public two- and four- year institutions. Further, most public universities classify undocumented youth as international students and charge them six to seven times the usual tuition. However not all schools are so extreme, as eleven states– California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New...
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