News Column

LULAC Aims to Deliver American Dream

Oct. 26, 2012

Thaddeus Miller, Los Banos Enterprise (Los Banos, Calif.)

Hispanic couple looking at new home

A conference last week aimed at Latino students stressed the avenues for getting accepted to and paying for college, including the Dream Act.

League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, organized the event Saturday at Pacheco High School and brought a number of organizations to the campus.

Daniel Ruiz, a financial aid and student services assistant, was in charge of relaying what the Dream Act means for students at Merced College Los Banos Campus.

"When they get that classification they're able to apply for the California Dream Act application," Ruiz said, adding that the document mirrors other grant applications.

The Dream Act deferred action allows students who were not born in but attended at least three years and graduated high school in the United States be treated as an in-state applicant. That means they would pay in-state tuition and be eligible for state, but not federal, grants at California State University, University of California and state community colleges.

The deferred action goes into effect after the new year.

"We already have a number of students who are receiving those grants and they'll be available Jan. 1," Ruiz said.

Before the deferred action, implemented June 15 by President Barack Obama's executive authority, students could graduate with a bachelor's or master's and not be able to work. The action grants those graduates a work permit.

The Los Banos Unified School District has 290 students from kindergartners to seniors registered as children of migrant workers. There are an estimated 1.7 million immigrants eligible for the deferrals nationwide.

Other college, legal and small business advocates were on hand Saturday, many of them with Dream Act information.

Plant seed for college

President Lea Hernandez said she started the LULAC conference, now in its fourth year, because students think college is out of reach.

About 100 students attended Saturday.

"The idea is to put a seed in them," Hernandez said. "(So,) they'll be able to get an education, be able to provide and get the things that they want."

Pat Hernandez, the LULAC chaplain, said she had a student asking her about the deferred action Saturday.

"The information she got today, she didn't have it before -- she was scared," she said. "There's a way now, there's an open door."

Nov. 30 is the deadline to apply for CSUs and UCs.

For more on the Dream Act, go to www.icanaffordcollege.com/dreamact.



Source: (c)2012 the Los Banos Enterprise (Los Banos, Calif.) Distributed by MCT Information Services