On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Franklin Garcia, U.S. Representative for D.C. delivered testimony to the University of the District of Columbia’s Operations Committee in support of policy change for undocumented students.
Chairwoman and members of the University of the District of Columbia’s Board of Trustees Operations Committee. And thank you for the opportunity to deliver my testimony on the significant and important matter on your agenda, the proposed undocumented students policy change.
Since 2010, I worked tirelessly with a number of individuals and organizations to achieve the District of Columbia’s version of the DREAM Act. We have met with the Mayor, members of the DC City Council and officials at the University of the District of Columbia as well as the general public. We have also had Resolutions issued in support of a DC DREAM Act by a number of community and political organizations, including Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, civic associations, the Congressional Hispanic and Black Caucuses, the DC Democratic State Committee and others.
Currently, 12 states have passed laws that provide undocumented students with access and opportunity to affordable higher education through their respective version of DREAM Act legislation. Those forward-thinking states include California, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.
Here are a few facts about DC’s undocumented immigrant residents:
- According to a Pew Center 2010 report, undocumented immigrants comprised roughly 5 percent of the District’s population (or 25,000 people).
They contribute to the city’s tax base in every way:
- They pay taxes that are deducted from their paycheck. As exploited workers who contribute to the tax base, their contributions to Social Security and Medicare will never be returned to them.
- They contribute to the local economy. They buy cars, houses and shop at local retail outlets and grocery stores.
- They pay more for services that others simply don’t have to pay for. For example: Undocumented immigrants use costly cash checking and financial centers because they cannot open traditional bank accounts. They pay for legal services for documentation or because they can’t understand or complete basic forms.
Undocumented immigrants subsidize our local economy in ways that are overlooked or altogether ignored.
Education is a civil right and the cornerstone of social and economic progress in this country.
The proposed change in policy at UDC will make it possible for many undocumented city residents to pursue their dream of attending college. And, the implementation of UDC’s proposed policy change will position DC as another state that understands the value of making higher education more inclusive, accessible and affordable to the community it serves.
As a public institution, UDC’s history is steeped in the tradition of access to affordable education for marginalized members of society. Changing the policy is the right thing to do and in alignment with the University’s history; and it will benefit students, the university and the city.
I am hopeful that the Board of Trustees Operations Committee will implement the proposed change in UDC’s tuition policy and we can finally claim the victory that all DC residents have equal access to our State college.
Thank you for your time this evening.