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University of Texas Eliminates Scholarship and Program for Undocumented Students

Tower and Main Building with students on the Main Mall 2015. This was taken from above from a man lift, after the University Leadership Network group shot.

According to an internal letter, officials at the University of Texas in Austin revoked an undocumented student scholarship, citing the state’s DEI ban and a federal immigration law.

The Monarch Program, aimed at supporting undocumented students, provided annual scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,000. The Daily Texan, a student newspaper, stated that the entire program was discontinued on January 1.

“When I learned that they were taking away one of the very few scholarships for undocumented students, I was furious,” said Lupe, an undocumented junior at UT who wished to be identified only by her middle name due to her immigration status. “It makes a difference.” You’re taking a really strong instrument away from us, which is horrible.”

According to internal letters obtained by The Dallas Morning News, university administrators believe the scholarship may violate Texas’ new restriction on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in state institutions and colleges. One message also refers to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, or IIRIRA.

UT authorities did not immediately reply to a request for comment. UT System officials declined to comment, sending questions to the Austin school.

A new Texas law, signed by Gov. Greg Abbot in May, mandates the elimination of DEI offices and programs based on race, color, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, the author of the DEI prohibition legislation, could not be reached for comment. He did not directly address immigration status in the measure, and programming for undocumented pupils was not mentioned during legislative deliberations.

Monarch’s undocumented students questioned the university’s decision to end the program, citing the DEI restriction. students claimed students were assured throughout the fall semester that the program was “safe” because it is not based on race or gender.

The Monarch Program was founded in 2016 by a graduate student, but it became institutionalized when the university recruited a coordinator in 2021. The effort provided support networks for undocumented students as well as instructional events for the rest of the UT community.

For example, students could gain access to resource lists that include scholarship, internship, and housing possibilities for undocumented individuals. UT personnel should attend Monarch workshops to learn how to effectively help these students.

Tiffany Lewis, UT’s associate vice president of campus and community engagement, announced in an email to students that “the Monarch program has been discontinued and all activities must cease.”

Lewis stated that the program’s discontinuation is due to the DEI ban. She did not immediately respond to The News’ request for comment.

“I recognize the value and importance of the program, not just as an educational initiative but as a space that fostered understanding, empathy, and inclusivity,” Lewis stated in an email. “Your dedication, passion, and involvement in the program have always been sources of inspiration and pride.”

 

According to federal law, aliens who are not lawfully present in the US cannot receive postsecondary education benefits unless they are citizens or nationals of the US.

Scholarships for undocumented students are available at colleges and universities throughout, including public universities in border areas like Arizona and California.

The program and scholarship were eliminated just weeks after Texas lawmakers approved new immigration proposals that would allow state and local law enforcement to arrest people they believe have entered the state illegally, which many advocates fear will complicate college access for such students.

Advocates have expressed concern that reducing assistance services for undocumented kids will result in fewer of them remaining in school and shifting to industries that hire undocumented workers in low-wage, dangerous situations.

Lupe stated that she would not be a student at UT without the help of scholarships that do not exclude illegal students.

Most scholarships require citizenship, a social security number, or DACA status, which most undocumented students in college no longer have after the Trump administration challenged the program.

“We were caught off guard by the university,” Lupe explained. “It’s unjust and unfair to take that away from a student.”

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