Iowa Workforce Opportunities Act introduced

We want an Iowa where all students – regardless of status – are encouraged to succeed and allowed to dream!

Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad (D-Des Moines) has introduced Iowa’s very own DREAM Act – aptly named the Iowa Workforce Opportunities Act (IOWA Act).

The IOWA Act, House File 2192,  would give undocumented students who live and have graduated school in Iowa the ability to qualify for in-state college tuition.


In order to qualify for in-state tuition under the IOWA Act, students must:

  • Have graduated from an accredited Iowa high school or hold an equivalent degree, and/or
  • Attended an Iowa public school for 5 years
  • Commit to take steps to become US Citizens as soon as they are able.

Why Iowans need the IOWA Act:

  • In Iowa, there are estimated to be between 8,800 and 13,600 undocumented children under the age of 18 (Iowa Policy Project). 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year nationwide (National Immigration Law Center).
  • Without access to college, many of these students – many who thrive in high school – will end up with low paying, unskilled jobs.
  • Undocumented students are currently trapped in the consequences of a decision, made years ago, by their parents who were the victims of an economic system that they had no control over. Though Iowa may be the only home that may of these students have known, they are denied access to the dream of higher education their peers have.

The IOWA Act is an initiative to increase access to college and increase high school graduation rates. It increases access by making college more affordable for all students regardless of their immigration status. In addition, undocumented students have the highest dropout rates. One of the main reasons for this is that students see not future for themselves beyond high school because college is currently unattainable for most of them. At the Marshalltown High School alone, Hispanic students had a 37.33% drop out rate compared to 11.35 for white students

The IOWA Act makes financial sense for the state’s budget. On average, college graduates earn nearly a million dollars more in a lifetime than a high school dropout, which means more tax dollars for Iowa.

The IOWA Act is for Iowans. In order to qualify for the IOWA Act, students must have attended an Iowa school for 5 years and/or graduated from an Iowa high school.

The IOWA Act is for tax payers. Undocumented students and their families pay taxes just like their neighbors. They pay income, sales, property and payroll taxes, but do not qualify for benefits including tax refunds.

The IOWA Act levels the playing field for all Iowa’s students. Undocumented students represent less than 2% of all high school graduates, not enough to affect access by others. The IOWA Act judges undocumented students on equal terms with their class mates.

The IOWA Act is true to American values. In the 1982 lawsuit Plyer v. Doe, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that K-12 schools could not discriminate based on immigration status when a student is seeking to enroll. It only makes sense to ensure that the investment we have already made into these students is not squandered. The Act will ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity.

The IOWA Act makes sense. Many other states have already passed similar legislation. They include: Illinois, Utah, Texas, Nebraska, Washington, New York, Kansas, Oklahoma, California, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

We’re glad that Rep. Abdul-Samad introduced the IOWA Act this year, following his commitment to the bill from the past two years after meeting with members of the CCI Dream Team.  Every Iowa student should have equal access to college.


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