An amendment that would require young undocumented immigrants to graduate from “any institution of higher learning” in order to be put on an expedited 5-year pathway to citizenship will be proposed by conservative Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), the LA Times reported on Wednesday. The amendment would toughen the DREAM act requirement currently incorporated in the Senate immigration bill of enrolling in a post-secondary institution or enlisting in the military.
But the amendment could prove to be a potential financial burden for DREAMers. The median household income of an undocumented family stands at $36,000 and it would be a serious expense for a family to set aside anywhere between $3,131 for a two-year public college to $29,056 for a private four-year college per college-going child annually. This figure does not include textbooks and room and board costs which adds an extra $10,000.
Additionally, undocumented students are unable to apply for federal financial aid, while private scholarships and state financial aid are rare to come by. Many undocumented youths would have to work part-time in order to pay for college, which could result in a delay in their citizenship process. Legalization through the original intent of the act would allow these immigrants to earn more.
This is the first time that any senator has proposed a major change to the legalization timetable for DREAMers in the comprehensive reform bill. But it’s not the first time that Manchin has grappled with his views on the DREAM Act. When it was proposed as a stand-alone bill in 2010, Manchin missed the vote to take a vacation, and the bill failed by five votes.