March 23, 2023

Reps. Gallego and Williams Introduce Legislation to Increase Higher Education Access for Dreamers

WASHINGTON, DCRep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-03) and Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-05) today reintroduced the Higher Education Dream Act, legislation to remove barriers preventing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients—otherwise known as Dreamers—from higher education institutions and federal financial aid.

“If we want to keep the American dream alive, we need to make sure anyone—regardless of immigration status—has the opportunity to get the education they deserve,” said Rep. Gallego. “Just a few short months ago Arizonans made clear at the ballot box that Dreamers should have the same educational opportunities as other Arizona students. I’m looking to build on that momentum here in Congress, and that’s why I’m proud to lead the Higher Education Dream Act once again.

Dreamers are our neighbors, colleagues, and classmates and they strengthen our country," said Rep. Williams. "I am committed to doing all I can for Dreamers, including unlocking higher education, so they can achieve the promise of America. Introducing the Higher Education Dream Act with Congressman Gallego will help Dreamers access and afford higher education.”In November 2022, Arizona voters approved a ballot proposition, Prop. 308, that allowed non-citizens students to receive in-state college tuition when the student attended Arizona schools for at least two years and graduated from a public school, private school, or homeschool in the state.

“The Higher Education Dream Act is not only an investment and commitment to our DACA students but to the future of workforce development.” said MCCCD Chancellor Steven Gonzales. “ The Maricopa Community Colleges are excited to continue helping all students, regardless of their background, achieve their academic goals and fulfill their potential by providing access to quality programs and services at the lowest possible cost."

"My students at Scottsdale Community College in Scottsdale, Arizona need the Higher Education Dream Act to pass in order to have a fair and equitable chance at a college experience that does not cause them economic and personal hardships," said Professor Brian S. Davis of Scottsdale Community College. "My DACA students have to work multiple jobs to pay out-of-state tuition even though they have never known any home other than Arizona. This bill is a step in the right direction to help Dreamers to actually achieve the American Dream."

The Higher Education Dream Act builds on Arizona’s success by prohibiting institutions that receive federal funds from refusing to admit, enroll, or grant in-state tuition benefits to qualified students based on their immigration status. It would also expand federal financial aid opportunities to Dreamers.

The bill is a continuation of Rep. Gallego’s leadership in fighting for Dreamers in Arizona and across the country. Rep. Gallego first introduced the legislation with the late Rep. John Lewis in 2019 and has pushed for the bill each year since.

In 1982, the Supreme Court decided in Plyler v. Doe to allow undocumented students to attend public elementary and secondary schools but remained silent on the question of higher education. As a result, there are a patchwork of policies that vary state-by-state, which create a series of hurdles for Dreamers to access higher education. The legislation provides clear standards and hope for those seeking to realize the American dream.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Reps. Greg Stanton (AZ-04), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Darren Soto (FL-09), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29).


Rep. Ruben Gallego is a Marine Corps combat veteran who served in Iraq. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee.