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City College leaders urge eligible students to apply for California Dream Act

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City College of San Francisco Trustee Tom Temprano (third from left), Board of Trustees Vice President Alex Randolph (fourth from) left, California Assemblymember David Chiu (center), Board of Trustees President Brigitte Davila (fourth from right), Chancellor Mark Rocha (third from right) were joined by college students and staff on Wednesday to urge eligible students to apply for the California Dream Act. (Courtesy CCSF)

City College of San Francisco leaders on Wednesday assured undocumented students that it is safe to sign up for financial aid under the California Dream Act this week.

Students must fill out their applications for the California Dream Act, which allows undocumented students to receive state financial aid for college, by 5 p.m. on Friday.

The deadline comes just days ahead of the March 5 expiration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal program that since 2012 has granted work permits and protection from deportations to young immigrants who arrived in the country without documentation.

Last September, President Donald Trump announced the program’s repeal and called on Congress to pass legislation protecting the so-called “Dreamers,” leaving hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients in limbo.

The two programs are unrelated and even with a DACA repeal, undocumented students will still be eligible for state financial aid under the California Dream Act. Regardless, confusion and fear remain a barrier for vulnerable students wishing to enroll at City College.

“We want to ensure that students know that their information is secure with us,” said City College Trustee Tom Temprano. “There is understandably a lot of apprehension and fear from students in filling out any sort of government application.”

Wednesday’s press conference at City College’s Mission campus echoes a Feb. 15 statement by California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley reminding students that they can apply for financial aid under the California dream act “regardless of their immigration status.”

This year, applications are down 20,000 from last year “amidst ongoing uncertainty” around immigration reform at the federal level, Oakley said.

California Assemblymember David Chiu, who joined City College leaders on Wednesday, said that over “a dozen bills” have been passed by the state legislature to ensure that “data is private in California, to ensure that we are not going to cooperate with ICE agents, that landlords are not calling ICE on tenants, and that if ICE comes knocking on the doors of employers, Donald Trump needs to follow the Constitution.”

Last December, the City College Board of Trustees passed a resolution reaffirming its commitment to serving all undocumented students and employees. The board also dedicated “first of its kind” funding of $700,000 to provide additional support services to undocumented students, noted Temprano.

“CCSF is a sanctuary campus in a sanctuary city in a sanctuary state,” Temprano said. “We still have all of these resources available to undocumented students who want to take classes here in San Francisco.”

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