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Know Your Rights
Source: Refinery29
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Why These Young Women Are Using Their Graduation Caps To Send A Powerful Message

For many Dreamers graduating in 2018, it’s an uncertain time. But that isn’t stopping them from declaring their #Undocugrad and #Immigrad status loud and proud on social media — in fact, it’s more important now than ever.
The Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which allowed undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to work and study in the country without fear of getting deported, is in limbo. The Trump administration has tried to eliminate it, and although some judges and politicians have stepped in to try to save DACA, Congress still hasn’t acted to implement a long-term solution.
To celebrate their achievements despite the setbacks, some graduates are not just donning a mortarboard and gown; they’re writing statements on their caps like, “Dreams are bigger than your borders” and decorating them in seriously creative ways.
“Thousands of undocumented young adults are graduating across the country, but because of Congress inaction, we are left in a limbo of not knowing if or for how long we will be able to pursue the careers that we worked so hard to study for and graduate,” Yatziri Tovar, spokesperson for Make the Road New York, an organization that advocates for immigrant rights, told Refinery29.
Tovar, herself a DACA recipient, said Dreamers face extra challenges at college, such as not qualifying for federal financial aid and certain grants and loans. They only qualify for in-state tuition in a few states. According to a recent survey, 45% of DACA recipients are currently in school, and among them, 72% are working on a bachelor’s degree or higher. Of those who are in school, 94% said they pursued educational opportunities they otherwise couldn’t have because of DACA.
Ahead, Dreamers tell us the stories behind their decked-out hats.