• Laurel Contributor

Friendship Center to the Rescue

by Kaye McHann

As the beginning of school approaches, the Friendship Center is learning more about the young people who wish they could continue their education but cannot. These are students that graduated high school with good grades, behavior and a record of being active in school activities. The kind of student we want our own children to be! But they are hindered by simply being born in the wrong country.

DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an immigration policy that allows some individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to receive a two-year period of deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the U.S. To be eligible the recipients cannot have felonies or serious misdemeanors on their records.

Sounds great right? They can stay in the country where they have grown up as children and work. Well it cost them nearly $500 every two years to get that minimum wage job and the real kicker is if they want to further their education, they pay out of state tuition. Yes, even though they went through the Macon or Jackson County Schools as successful students and have been accepted to college and received scholarships they pay out of state tuition.

There are two young students that come to mind immediately. One graduated top of the senior class, is accepted to a prestigious NC college with a scholarship but will not be attending this school due to the high cost of out of state tuition. The second student has worked hard and put themselves through the local community college and is now ready to pursue a bachelor degree but can’t earn enough money to pay the out of state tuition and their living expenses.

Approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from HS each year, 45 percent are in school and 72 percent are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher. DACA expired March 2018 but has been put on hold by several courts. These young people are currently living in limbo.

There are so many eager young students that want to be educated, be productive citizens and contribute to our communities and American Society in general but are unable simply because they were born in the wrong country. The Friendship Center is currently assisting DACA students and taking action to learn more about how to assist these students. We will report more as we make progress.

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