Education News

How Houston Schools Are Trying To Help Undocumented Students

The Houston Independent School District is planning its third summit for Dreamers and their families on Dec. 9

Houston schools are taking action to help as many as 20,000 so-called Dreamers, students who have less protection since the Trump Administration recently decided to phase out the program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

The program, started by President Barack Obama in 2012, offered young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children temporary work permits and protection from deportation.

Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza estimates that about 10 percent of the student body in the state’s largest school district are Dreamers.

So, the first thing the district did after the change in DACA was blast out a message the superintendent was standing behind Dreamers. Then HISD launched a comprehensive website for Dreamers that covers where to get legal advice, how to apply for college and more.

Josie Trevino who works in HISD’s department for college and career readiness, said that it’s important to let Dreamers know they still have options to pursue higher education.

“They can still apply for college. They are still eligible for state financial aid in the state of Texas,” she said“I know that there might be a lot of struggles in the end in getting to where you thought that you were going to get to or where you were going to be. However, my my message is always to hold on to that hope. But you have to be doing something to hold onto it.”

Some of those things Dreamers can do: Keep going to school, apply to college and state financial aid and seek legal counsel, Trevino said.

Her department has also trained dozens of college advisers from all of HISD’s high schools on the latest on DACA and how to talk to students about sensitive issues like their immigration status. She said that it often doesn’t come up until students start trying to apply for financial aid for college.

“My goal is to make sure that they still hold onto some sense of hope and I can provide as much support as I can. But I can’t fix it all. And that is my biggest challenge,” she said.

HISD is also planning its third summit for Dreamers and their families on Saturday, December 9.

 

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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