By Annette Brill Bergstresser
ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Church USA)—Due to the lack of progress on immigration reform, funds raised during Mennonite Church USA’s Phoenix 2013 convention to help undocumented young Mennonites apply for deferred action have also been made available for educational scholarships.
The denomination’s DREAMer Fund was originally established in the fall of 2012 to help Mennonites who qualified for the U.S. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) pay the application fees. (DACA allows allow young people who did not intentionally violate immigration laws to legally obtain work permits and gain protection from deportation. Young adults who qualify for DACA are commonly referred to as “DREAMers,” after the DREAM [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors] Act, which has not passed.)
A special offering at Phoenix 2013 raised more than $27,000 for the fund, surpassing the original goal of $15,000. However, Iris de León-Hartshorn, director of transformative peacemaking for Mennonite Church USA and administrator of the fund, has received few applications for assistance.
“Due to the questionable future of the immigration bill, many DREAMers have been hesitant to apply for deferments due to the uncertainty of their status and the fear of having information be used against them,” she says.
De León-Hartshorn said that the use of the fund would be expanded to provide $500 to $1500 scholarships to go toward college/university or trade school tuition for undocumented immigrant young adults. Applicants must be members of a Mennonite Church USA congregation or members of an other-than-Mennonite congregation who are attending a Mennonite college or university.
“We believe this use honors the spirit with which these contributions were made,” de León-Hartshorn says. She adds that funds will still be available for Mennonites applying for the DACA program.
Requests for funds should be received by Sept. 30 (for 2014, the deadline has been extended to Oct. 15), Jan. 30, March 30 and June 30. Guidelines and an application are available online.
DREAMer scholarship funds available! Scholarship funds are now available from Mennonite Church USA to help with college or trade school tuition costs for undocumented young adults who are part of a Mennonite congregation or attend a Mennonite college/university. These funds come from the DREAMer Fund, which was originally established to help DREAMers apply for deferred action to be able to live and work legally in the U.S. At the Mennonite Church USA 2013 convention in Phoenix, more than $27,000 was raised for this fund. However, due to the uncertain future of immigration reform, many DREAMers have been hesitant to apply, so the use of the fund is being expanded to include educational assistance. The first deadline date has been extended to Oct. 15 for 2014 only; the next deadline is Jan. 30, 2015. Guidelines and an application are available online.