House Bill 3-302:
An Act to: Grant Financial Aid Eligibility to Students Who Qualify for DACA in the State of Colorado.
Immigration has become heated topic in the recent years, because of the intense focus that has risen since the recent presidential election. Views range to the extreme beliefs that everyone should have the right to become an American Citizen to others believing that everyone who’s undocumented should be deported.
The importance of this issue of how to deal with immigrants has also been brought to Youth in Government in House Bill 3-302. Larry Blackshear and Lachlan Patino Scott from Gateway High School both authored this bill.
For some background information on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), it is a large program that includes protection for young undocumented immigrants. Some of the benefits of DACA is that “About 690,000 young adults are currently protected [they] have been able to enroll in college and legally secure jobs. They also pay income taxes” (http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/04/politics/daca- dreamers-immigration-program/index.html). The main issue of House Bill 3-302 is that undocumented immigrants may be able to receive DACA, but they are unable to apply for financial aid for college. DACA may also be ending soon which adds to the debate of this bill. The authors of this bill believe that financial aid is vital for these students because “According to the U.S. Department of Education, over $150 billion is given to college students annually via the FAFSA” (https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs /my-money/2015/01/05/ why-you-should-fill-out-the-fafsa). Since undocumented immigrants cannot apply for the FAFSA, they are unable to receive a part of the $150 billion. As a result, many people believe that DACA students need the ability to apply for financial aid in order to go to college, and that is what the authors of this bill are trying to fix.
One of the authors, Larry Blackshear, was interviewed in particular because he has a friend who is an undocumented immigrant who is protected by DACA. The conversation started with the question: “Another reporter told me that you had a friend who was undocumented, so could you share more of his story with me?”
In response, Blackshear explained that, “He told me that, awhile ago, he wanted to go to college where I was going. We had the same interest, but he couldn’t because of the FAFSA, so I just thought that was really wrong. I really wanted to change that because he’s grown up here his entire life. He’s an American citizen, in my opinion, so he should have the same rights to apply for financial aid and go to college just like the right of us.”
After that, Blackshear was asked, what he wants to accomplish through his bill? His passion for this bill was obvious because of how excited he was when he responded. He said, “I really just want to open up people’s eyes, so that everyone can know that this is a real problem. Hopefully, we can pass legislation, for all of our friends. I know that there are multiple undocumented immigrants throughout the state of Colorado, so I’m sure that a lot of people have situations similar to mine. And I just hope that we can get everyone what they want and deserve.”
Then, some of the following questions were asked to clarify some of the ideas in Blackshear’s bill.
Q: “So would your bill make them so they are fully American citizens or would it just make them able to get financial aid?”
A: “They would still be undocumented; it would just make it able for them to apply for financial aid.”
Q: “Do you think this will help them become actual citizens in the future, or do you think they will stay undocumented?”
A: “I definitely think it’ll help them become documented.”
Overall, the author of this bill believes that the undocumented immigrants who have lived in America their entire life should have the same rights as American citizen to apply for financial aid. This way, they are able to apply to college with less debt. Otherwise, they may never be able to afford to further their education. In addition, Blackshear believes that this new opportunity for them will help them become documented immigrants, as well, which helps the immigrant issue in the United States.
Author: Sierra Snyder