‘I’m no different than any other ordinary student who has citizenship’

DACA student reacts to Education Department decision to bar emergency funds from DACA, international students


Brian Hayes

WSU mechanical engineering major Tony Ibarra, holds up a sign during the #HereToStay support event held at the Historical County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon. (Sept. 5, 2017)

Last week, the Education Department issued guidance to universities receiving emergency funds for students through the CARES Act that DACA and international students were not eligible to receive that aid. 

Mechanical engineering senior Tony Ibarra is a DACA recipient. Ibarra was in Atlanta working for Delta Airlines through a co-op at the beginning of the pandemic. He has since returned home and took a quarter decrease in pay.

While still being paid, Ibarra advocated for DACA students who are less fortunate.

“My heart definitely goes out to those that were not able to keep their jobs . . . for obvious reasons and are unemployed because it’s certainly a tough time,” Ibarra said, “And being a DACA recipient is tough enough and being laid off as a DACA recipient is even tougher.”

DACA recipients are barred from receiving financial aid at the state and federal level, which now includes the $4.4 million the university will receive for emergency aid for students through the CARES Act. They also can’t apply for unemployment benefits like citizens who have lost their jobs.

“I’m no different than any other ordinary student who has citizenship,” Ibarra said.

“We shouldn’t be excluding students to receive financial aid in a time of crisis based on citizenship. I mean it makes absolutely no sense that we might be . . . likely enduring more, you know, struggles right now than a person who does have citizenship and who is able to apply for unemployment.”

Ibarra said he wasn’t surprised that DACA and international students were excluded from receiving aid, calling it “an expected slap in the face.”

“We were excluded from different things, and I think now during this time of crisis, there’s really no opportunity for you to exclude anyone from any sort of assistance or aid whatsoever — and that includes college students.”

While DACA and international students can’t receive emergency aid through the CARES Act, the university set up a different fund at the beginning of the pandemic that all students are eligible for.

Ibarra said nonprofits and private foundations also have funds and scholarships to financially help DACA or undocumented students. Ibarra’s fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, also has as scholarship fund set up for DACA students.

“Most people don’t know that we don’t qualify for any state or federal grant or loans whatsoever,” Ibarra said. “So it makes it a little more difficult for us to venture out and find those types of resources that we need.”