Letter By Florida Teacher: Immigrants Are Owed Nothing But Opportunity-Mostly Fiction

Letter By Florida Teacher: Immigrants Are Owed Nothing But Opportunity-Mostly Fiction

Summary of eRumor:

A letter by a Florida teacher on immigrants receiving financial aid for education and living expenses only to later return home to their native countries has been circulating via email for years.
The Truth:
Specific claims made in the letter by a Florida teacher about an adult Dominican student who received various forms of federal education assistance can’t be verified because there’s no way to identify who wrote the letter or key background info on the Dominican student.
Variations of the letter by a Florida teacher have been circulating for years. Early versions of the letter were written from the perspective of someone who had been told about the adult Dominican student by a friend teaching at a local college; later versions were written from the perspective of a Florida teacher. And, while we can’t confirm the authenticity of the letter, we can look at specific claims made about Pell grants and other forms of educational assistance available to immigrants.

Non-Citizens Qualify for Pell Grants, Later Return Home-Truth! & Fiction!

Non-U.S. citizens with legal status qualify for federal student aid like Pell grants if they meet specific criteria — and the system weeds out non-U.S. citizens don’t plan on pursuing permanent legal status.
Those who have been granted permanent legal status (green card holders) qualify for federal student aid. Those who have an arrival-departure record showing “refugee,” “asylum granted,” “Cuban-Haitian entrant,” “conditional entrant,” and “parolee” and are able to demonstrate they’re not in the U.S. on a temporary basis qualify. Victims of human trafficking with T-immigration status qualify. Those with “battered immigrant qualified alien” status also qualify.
So, some non-U.S. citizens with legal status do qualify for Pell grants and other forms of federal student aid — but claims made in the Florida teacher’s letter about the Dominican student with plans to return to their native country after her studies seems highly improbable. Not only would the student have to fall into one of the qualifying categories listed about to qualify, she would also have to provide evidence that she intends to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, the Education Department reports:

To qualify for federal student aid, certain eligible noncitizens must be able to provide evidence from the USCIS that they are in the United States for other than a temporary purpose with the intention of becoming a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

That means it would likely be a federal crime for the Dominican student to falsify federal records in order to receive a Pell grant with the intention of later returning to her home country — and, while that would be possible, it would also be illegal.

Given that it would be possible — but likely illegal — for a non-U.S. citizen with legal status to accept federal student aid with the intention of returning to their home country, we’re calling this claim “truth” and “fiction.”

CARIBE Pays for Child Care While Immigrants Got to School-Mostly Fiction!

The Florida teacher letter’s claims that CARIBE, which stands for Career Recruitment and Instruction in Basic English, provides childcare so that non-U.S. citizens can go to school are mostly fiction.

CARIBE is an adult educational program administered by the Florida Department of Children and Family Services using federal grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CARIBE provides language instruction, enrollment in post secondary vocational courses, transportation assistance, case management and integration assistance, and degree translation and evaluation to those with refugee, asylum or parolee status.

Not included in that list is free childcare. However, CARIBE reps have said qualifying refugees taking part in the program can be referred to outside programs that do provide childcare assistance.

WAIT Program Provides Credit Cards for Gas, Other Expenses-Fiction! 

We couldn’t find any evidence to support letter by a Florida teacher’s claims that a WAIT program gives students a credit card to pay for gas to get to school. In fact, we couldn’t’ find any evidence that the”WAIT” program exists at all.

The closest thing we could find was Why Am I Tempted? (WAIT) training, which appears to be a program geared to help middle school students avoid risky behaviors like unprotected sex. The program seems completely unrelated to post-secondary education, and there’s no indication that it provides credit cards to those who take part.

In the end, specific claims made in the letter from a Florida teacher can’t be verified because the author is unidentified. When it comes to claims about immigrants receiving federal eduction assistance, they proven mostly false. Pell grants are available to some non-U.S. citizens with legal status, but those who accept Pell grants must demonstrate that they’re pursing permanent residency. And Other claims about CARIBE and WAIT appear to be fictional. Given all that, we’re classifying this one as “mostly fiction.”