FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION
March 19, 2015
Brenda Arredondo: (202) 587-4945
DEFINE AMERICAN APPLAUDS CONGRESSIONAL BILL ENCOURAGING STATES TO OFFER DREAMERS IN-STATE TUITION
Legislation would financially reward states that offer in-state tuition to college students living in the country illegally
WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Joaquin Castro introduced the Investing in States to Achieve Tuition Equity (IN-STATE) for Dreamers Act of 2015, which provides incentives for states to offer in-state tuition and state financial aid for Dreamer students. Define American Executive Director Rev. Ryan M. Eller released the following statement in response to the legislation:
“By providing undocumented American students an easier path to higher education, regardless of their immigration status, Congress has given Dreamers an opportunity to continue to work hard and give back to their communities. This bill goes a long way toward recognizing that Dreamers are not a liability to our nation, but Americans who will contribute to our economy and help ensure our country remains internationally competitive.”
Define American is a media and culture campaign using the power of story to transcend politics and shift conversation around immigration, identity, and citizenship in America. If you would like to interview an undocumented college student who would benefit from this bill, and/or a former undocumented student who already benefited from in-state tuition in Texas, please contact Brenda Arredondo at (202) 587-4945 or [email protected]
Their short bios and quotes are provided, below.
"It is encouraging to see that there are supporters who see the importance of educating our youth, regardless of their immigration status. It is especially timely now that there are some in Texas trying to repeal this exact initiative, one that I benefited from and changed my life forever as a result of getting a college education," said Julissa Arce, Director of Development at Define American.
"Every year countless undocumented Americans are forced to renounce dreams of a higher education. If this legislation passed, and states took up the opportunity to invest in their vibrant immigrant communities, it would allow undocumented students like me to go to college in our own states, pursue our career goals and contribute to the local economy in the place we call home," said Eduardo Samaniego, one of the participants of the Define American #1of11Million campaign, where 11 undocumented Americans applied proactively for deferred action (even before the President's executive order) in order to highlight the stories of those who could be included should the government act to keep families together.
Eduardo Samaniego, Age 22
Arrived in 2009 from Zacatecas, Mexico (5 years in U.S., arrived at the age of 16) Home: Kennesaw, Georgia Eduardo was brought here in his youth, received a full scholarship, and is now attending Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, because the state of Georgia does not offer in-state tuition to undocumented students. He does not qualify for DACA. He has filed affirmatively for deferred action as a part of Define American's “One of Eleven Million” campaign.
Julissa Arce, Age 31
Arrived in 1994 from Taxco, Mexico (20 years in the U.S., arrived at the age of 11). Became a U.S. citizen in August of 2014. Home: New York City, NY Just as she was graduating high school in San Antonio, Texas in 2001, a new state law signed by Gov. Rick Perry made it possible for undocumented Texas students to attend public universities at in-state rates. Arce was able to attend the University of Texas and later become a vice-president at Goldman Sachs, while undocumented.