Fund provides aid for undocumented studentsPosted on September 5, 2013 | by Maria Verbaite
A new fund is providing a way for admitted undocumented NYU students to afford the citizenship application fee when asking the government to defer deportation.
Alina Das, an NYU School of Law professor and co-director of the Immigration Rights Clinic at the law school, co-founded the initiative, dubbed the Tejani Immigrant Pathways Fund.
“We want undocumented students at NYU to have every opportunity to realize the dreams that brought them to NYU in the first place,” Das said.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security initiated a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival application process that allows individuals who entered the United States before the age of 16 to request up to two years of additional time to finish their studies.
Undocumented students are not allowed to work and are ineligible for any federally funded aid such as scholarships, loans, grants and work-study money.
The Tejani Immigrant Pathways Fund will help undocumented NYU students pay the $465 DACA application fee. The grants are funded by private donations.
DACA does not offer a pathway to citizenship nor access to state financial aid. However, it does allow successful applicants to lawfully work in the United States and obtain social security numbers.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are currently 765,000 teenagers who have entered the United States before the age of 16 and do not hold legal U.S. resident status. With each graduating U.S. high school class, approximately 65,000 are undocumented.
Nancy Morawetz, another NYU Law professor at the Immigrant Rights Clinic, further elaborated on the importance of the fund.
“DACA should recognize that students are ill-positioned to pay fees,” Morawetz said. “The fund offers relief to students who might otherwise forego DACA relief due to costs.”
Das said she hopes the fund will reinforce a message for all students.
“Regardless of immigration status, [all students] deserve the opportunity to pursue their education and contribute to their communities, here at NYU and across the country,” Das said.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 5 print edition. Maria Verbaite is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.