In 2016, illegal immigrants’ financial aid programs are planned to appropriate millions out of California’s general state funds in order to provide a college education to undocumented students. The University of California recently announced the amount of financial aid available to illegal aliens as part of the California DREAM program, but the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, is hoping to use the 2016 elections to elevate the issues of college financial aid and driver’s licenses for Latino illegal aliens.
The DREAM program was created in 2014 as part of Senate Bill 1210 to provide illegal immigrants financial aid. The UC press release notes that around 3,500 undocumented students will receive financial assistance, although undocumented students in California are not eligible for federal aid like the FAFSA. Under the DREAM program, illegal aliens are eligible to receive up to $4,000 per person annually, but individual college campuses can elect to lower this cap.
Each undocumented student is also allowed up to $20,000 in college student loans within the UC system, with the interest rate for the 2015-2016 college year set a 4.29 percent. UC students who take out a DREAM loan are given a six-month grace period after graduation to begin paying the student loan back.
“The DREAM loan program will grow our college-educated workforce and make good on the promise that a college degree is possible for all hard-working, qualified California students regardless of their immigration status,” California state Senator Ricardo Lara said in a press release.
Kevin Sabo, president of the University of California Student Association, believes the illegal immigrants financial aid program is necessary because federal student aid for illegal aliens is not possible.
“Congress with a majority of Republicans is not passing immigration reform,” he said, according to the Daily Bruin. “We should be realistic and not expect anything from that level.”
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The League of United Latin American Citizens hopes the 2016 elections can begin to change up things within Congress. LULAC is trying to inspire Latino voters within Iowa to make a big turnout and over the long term they’re hoping to put Latino politicians into power within Congress.
“Eventually I want to get a state legislator, whoever that may be, and maybe one day we can get a congressman out of it,” said Christian Ucles, the political director of the Iowa chapter of LULAC. “So those are the plans, and eventually, we want to make it so it’s a constant flow.”
These groups have also claimed a higher turnout due to the “Donald Trump effect,” which was the reaction in the Latino community to comments made by the Republican frontrunner. According to FiveThirtyEight, Sylvia Manzano, a data analysis and demographic researcher at Latino Decisions, is doubtful the anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric changed the turnout rate, but it does give “them an idea of who they would not support, but it’s not a reason to vote for someone else.”
LULAC and other similar groups are hoping Iowa may begin to mimic California and start offering illegal immigrants driver’s license and financial aid.
“Though we have a growing Latino population, it’s not as big as California or some of the other states, so a lot of our issues aren’t really brought up in the national media, and we really want to make sure we’re not forgotten,” said Hector Salamanca Arroyo, a grassroots engagement coordinator for the American Friends Services Committee.
Arroyo is himself an illegal immigrant, and therefore ineligible to vote during the 2016 elections, but he’s hoping the Latino groups can affect the outcome of the election regardless of their inability to vote directly.
“That’s the focus of DREAM Iowa — we really want to push those who are in power to take up our issues,” Arroyo said. “And if not, we’re gonna get them out of office. We’re gonna find a way to show that DREAMers can influence the elections here in Iowa.”
Do you think illegal immigrants should receive college students loans, financial aid, and driver’s licenses?
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