Miguel Cardona: College student Dreamers eligible for emergency grants


Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is announcing Tuesday that “Dreamers” are eligible for emergency grants for college students in COVID-19 relief bills, reversing the Trump administration policy that enforced the federal ban on giving most taxpayer benefits to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

“The pandemic didn’t discriminate against students,” Mr. Cardona told reporters in a conference-call briefing about the new policy.

Pressed by reporters about the legality of his decision, Mr. Cardona said he considers all students to be eligible, including those who are noncitizens.

Similar to previous coronavirus relief packages passed by Congress last year, the $1.9 trillion package signed by President Biden in March included emergency grants that colleges give students to pay for such things as rent, food or transportation. Half of the $36 billion for colleges and universities is supposed to be spent on the aid for students.

President Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, infuriated congressional Democrats when she denied the aid to Dreamers, the nickname for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Mrs. DeVos said that a provision in the federal 1996 welfare reform law prohibits noncitizens from receiving federal aid.

The Trump administration also denied aid to international students.

That Mr. Cardona would take that position was expected. It is the latest example of the Biden administration and congressional Democrats pivoting away from the Trump-era stance to more welcoming policies for undocumented immigrants and Dreamers in particular.

Mr. Biden has called for Dreamers to get a path to citizenship and a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled House would do just that.

The president also angered those calling for tighter immigration policies last month when he said Dreamers would qualify under his proposal for tuition-free community colleges.

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