President Joe Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona announced Tuesday he has reversed a Trump administration ban on eligibility for coronavirus relief grants to illegal aliens and international college students.
“The pandemic didn’t discriminate … and we want to make sure that all students have an opportunity to have access to funds to help them get back on track,” Cardona said Monday on a conference call, according to the Washington Post.
— House Ed & Labor Republicans (@EdLaborGOP) May 11, 2021
The Biden administration’s final rule overturns the Trump-era policy that blocked federal stimulus grants from access by those in the country illegally.
The education department was allotted $36 billion in emergency funds for students with housing and employment concerns, as well as for food provisions.
The final rule states:
The Secretary amends the regulations … so that an institution of higher education (IHE) may appropriately determine which individuals currently or previously enrolled at an institution are eligible to receive emergency financial aid grants to students under the Higher Education Emergency Relief programs, as originally enacted under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (March 27, 2020).
In a press release from the education department, Cardona stated:
These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation’s students – particularly those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – have the opportunity to enroll, continue their education, graduate, and pursue their careers. With this action, thousands of institutions will be able to provide direct relief to students who need it most, so we can make sure that we not only recover from the pandemic, but also build back even stronger than before.
National higher education leaders argued in favor of reversing the Trump administration rule, claiming the broad language of the CARES Act allowed colleges and universities to assist students receiving aid under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“What this does is really simplify the definition of a student,” Cardona said, reported the Post. “It makes it easier for colleges to administer the program and get the money in the hands of students sooner.”
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) chair of the Senate committee that oversees education, praised Cardona’s decision.
“Every student struggling because of this pandemic deserves access to emergency aid that can make all the difference,” she said. “After so many months of pushing back against the previous administration, I’m so relieved that Secretary Cardona took this important step.”
But Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the top Republican on the House Education Committee, said Cardona’s move is “an insult to every American.”
“President Biden is fueling an immigration crisis, and this final rule exacerbates the emergency at the southern border,” she said. “I call on elected Democrats to stop swindling law-abiding citizens, put Americans first, and respect the sacrifice of hardworking taxpayers.”