Dreamers rally at Missouri capital against bill to cut in-state tuition for undocumented students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Metro DACA students from the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance headed to Missouri’s capital Wednesday to lobby against a budget bill that would terminate in-state tuition rates for undocumented youth with DACA.

“It was horrible. I ended up going to the dean’s office. It got to the point where I really wanted to continue school. I didn’t want to drop out or go to another college, but I wasn’t able to afford it,” said Zaid Consuegra, a dreamer from Mexico City. He came to Kansas City in 1999.

He did not get in-state tuition for his schooling and knows the struggle of not being able to afford his education.

Now, Consuegra said he feels for undocumented youth who might have to pay extra in pursuit of higher education.

“I think it is discouraging for someone who is trying to better themselves and be in higher education,” Consuegra added. “I think it’s ridiculous to stop people, or students, from higher learning.”

Zaid Consuegra

“I know lots of students that have had to drop out, or transfer to Kansas schools because of this,” said Jessica Piedra, a metro immigration attorney. “It’s really a huge barrier to these low-income families to achieve that higher education here in a state where they’ve grown up in.”

Piedra said the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act has resulted in a patchwork of policies where Kansas students get in-state tuition. Missouri students do not.

“This is really an example of why we need the DREAM Act to pass on the federal law, so we can have one federal policy for the entire United States,” Piedra said.

Consuegra said this just creates inequalities and barriers for students.

“We could either keep being ignorant or manage and solve the issues right in front of us,” said Consuegra. “We are just people at the end of the day. We’re just trying to get by. We are not at fault. Obviously we didn’t ask for this, but now we’re dealing with it. We’re not asking for handouts. We’re doing everything we can to better ourselves and just live a happy life.”

There are about 3,500 youth with DACA who call Missouri home.