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Reps. Gallego, Williams Reintroduce Bill Expanding Higher Education Opportunities for Dreamers in honor of Rep. John Lewis

July 29, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Congresswoman Nikema Williams (D-GA) led fourteen of their House colleagues in reintroducing the Higher Education Dream Act, which protects Dreamers from discrimination in higher education eligibility, admissions, tuition, and access to financial aid. Last Congress, Rep. John Lewis led this legislation along with Rep. Gallego.


Although states are required to provide all students with primary and secondary education regardless of immigration status, there is no national policy requiring access to education past the high school level. As a result, a patchwork of policies exists across the country, many of which fully or partially bar aspiring Dreamers from pursuing higher education. Arizona is one of three states that expressly prohibits undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition, while Georgia bars Dreamer students from attending many public institutions of higher education.


The Higher Education Dream Act guarantees Dreamer students the opportunity to pursue higher education free from discrimination by:


  • Prohibiting institutions that receive federal funds from refusing to admit, enroll, or grant in-state tuition benefits to Dreamers who otherwise meet all qualifications;
  • Making sure Dreamers have access to federal financial aid to ensure that they can afford and access higher education; and
  • Banning any distribution of identifiable or sensitive information from Dreamers’ applications.


“I am proud to reintroduce the Higher Education Dream Act in memory of Congressman John Lewis, who co-led this bill with me last Congress and firmly believed that we must keep the promise of access to education for every American, regardless of immigration status,” said Rep. Gallego. “As the DACA program continues to face attacks in the courts and Congress considers pathways to citizenship for immigrant populations, this bill is a reminder that securing access to education is critical part of ensuring undocumented Americans can pursue their American dream. Immigrant students represent the strength and potential of our nation and economy, and they must not continue to be cruelly blocked from the pursuit of higher education.”


"Dreamers are our neighbors, colleagues, classmates, and family,” said Rep. Williams. “Our economy and country are stronger, more united, and more diverse because of Dreamers. I am committed to doing all I can to ensure Dreamers can achieve the promise of America, and that starts with unlocking higher education opportunities. I am proud to join Congressman Gallego in leading this legislation to ensure Dreamers have the ability both to access and afford higher education.”


"The Maricopa Community Colleges are committed to helping all students, regardless of their background, achieve their academic goals and fulfill their potential by providing access to quality programs and services,” said Dr. Steven Gonzales, Chancellor of Maricopa Community Colleges. “Our DACA students are extraordinarily talented individuals who have made great sacrifices to better themselves and their families, and who make a contribution to our communities and our state."


"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 is also co-sponsored by Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), and Darren Soto (D-FL).


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