Skip to comments.CA: Illegal immigrants find room at colleges - UC system has supported policy
Posted on 07/24/2006 12:02:26 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
SAN FRANCISCO When he started high school, Matias Bernal's English was so limited he stumbled over the words for numbers and colors.
Four years later, he was on the wait list at Princeton.
Bernal is an illegal immigrant from Mexico City. Without access to financial aid, grants and most scholarships, he had to push aside the Ivy League brochures and prepare to attend California State University Fresno, where he can live with family and pay tuition with money from jobs he is not supposed to have.
I was crushed, he said.
About 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate from U.S. high schools each year. With partisan Washington deadlocked over immigration, many states have been taking matters into their own hands.
Legislatures across the nation have passed 56 laws affecting immigrants this year most of them cracking down on foreigners but access to higher education seems to be one area where immigrants have been inching forward.
Nebraska recently joined nine other states including Texas, New York and Illinois that allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at their public institutions.
Although some states, such as Florida, have seen similar laws fail, the majority of undocumented students in the United States can count on paying the same tuition as the citizens who sit next to them in class.
California allows students without full citizenship to pay the lower tuition if they meet strict criteria, including residency in the state through high school. State legislators are seeking to take the next step and join Texas and other states that allow undocumented students attending California schools to apply for state financial aid.
Immigration is a federal issue, but there are consequences for states when the feds fail to act, said state Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who sponsored the bill. States have a right and a duty to act in their own interest.
This state-by-state approach is better than nothing, supporters said, but it leaves a lot of gaps.
Five years ago, federal legislators first introduced a measure that would have filled in such gaps.
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or Dream Act, as it is commonly called, sought to allow illegal immigrants who graduate from U.S. high schools to become temporary residents, eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid, as long as they pursued higher education. If they met these requirements, and stayed out of trouble, they could become legal residents.
It never came up for debate. Although it has been reintroduced every year since, the Dream Act inevitably becomes tangled in the politicized immigration debate of Capitol Hill, said Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., one of the bill's sponsors.
It's gotten caught up in the larger immigration debate, Diaz-Balart said. It's unfortunate this is a fairness issue with regard to hardworking, studious people.
Although measures that make education more accessible often garner bipartisan support, any move to improve the lot of people who are here illegally is still very controversial.
Opponents of the Dream Act argue that every seat taken in a classroom by someone such as Bernal means one less seat for others.
There are other victims here, said Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a Washington-based organization that seeks to stop illegal immigration. If we admit someone who is here illegally, we're saying no to someone else.
Some universities, including the University of California system, have publicly supported the measure, saying they are interested mainly in getting the best students they can, whatever their immigration status.
Access isn't just being admitted to the university, said UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez. It's being able to afford going to the university.
Financial aid would help students such as Nora Razon, who was brought to California illegally from Jalisco, Mexico, when she was 2 and made it to San Francisco State University despite growing up in a home so violent she spent time in foster care.
Razon couldn't get financial aid, but because California law allowed her to pay in-state tuition about $3,000 a year, instead of the $11,000 charged to out-of-state residents she was able to pay for college by working nights as a waitress and commuting four hours round-trip by train.
I refused to believe my education was going to stop, she said.
Although states can help illegal immigrants afford college, only the federal government can make it easier for them to become legal residents, legislators said.
Laws in states such as California only postpone the moment when those students will enter the work force and face the fact that with or without a diploma they still are not allowed to work legally.
Yeah, well I didn't get to go to Princeton either. Went thru the University of California system with no loans, financial aide, etc. Worked as a bartender and paid my way thru college with cash from tips.
Why should I have to help pay for You? Go back to Mexico and get your education there!
It is lovely that children from other lands can attend school here but not at the expense of our own children who suffer from overcrowding, bi-lingual issues, lowering the academic requirements and teaching to suit the lowest common denominators.
This is criminal. Felons do not have rights nor do their families.
Well in California I think it is over $11k a student now.
How about fairness for the legal US taxpayer for a change. I'm sick of paying for illegal aliens. I estimated that at least 1/3 of my local and California taxes are diverted to illegal aliens.
Arkansas State Law HB1525 almost gave in-state tuition to illegals in Arkansas. Some conservative activist, including freepers, lobbied against the bill which almost passed.
Are you sh*tt*ng me? This is supposed to be some dort of sob story? When my dad died when I was 15 we lost our home and savings and I "had to attend a state university." The horror! "Robbed" of attending an Ivy league I could not afford.
What the f*ck is wrong with Liberals? Since when do criminal aliens get public sympathy for not being able to pay to go to expensive schools? Has everyone lost their minds?
Cry me a river.
I just finished paying for four years out of State tuition at U of AZ. for my son. AZ. makes it extremely difficult to qualify for instate tuition even for California residents (and yes we are multi generation US citizens).
In Calif. an out of state US citizen qualifies for in state tuition after one year residency.
"Razon couldn't get financial aid, but because California law allowed her to pay in-state tuition about $3,000 a year, instead of the $11,000 charged to out-of-state residents "
Grand theft of the State of California.
Some legal resident lost a slot to this illegal.
Pay your taxes - after 200 years of slavery you owe us.
They should call it.....Out of Country Taxpayer Subsidized Tuition.
Friggin' liberals, trying to make up for the guilt they feel about illegals mowing their lawns for cheap, by spending their fellow citizens' tax dollars. How Kennedyesque.
I am willing to accept in state tuition for children of illegal aliens IFF: After graduation they are obligated to go back to their country of origin and use their education to improve Mexico.
This girl is exactly the kind of American immigrant we want. She works hard, believes in higher education, put herself through school without asking for handouts, and considered it important enough to commute 4 hours a day.
There are different situations for illegals. This girl was 2 when she was brought here illegally. She didn't make the decision, nor could she do anything about it. She did the best she could, with the situation she had. Her actions indicate to me that she understands American values. Why should we punish someone like this? She has done all the right things.
I didn't bring her here either. Why should it be up to me to make sure the girl is educated, fed, housed, medicated, etc.?
It is not the girls fault but it DEFINITELY is not my fault either, even though I (we) are the ones that must pay for it.
I don't care if she did everything right in the U.S., she is Mexico's citizen and Mexico should be taking care of her, not us.
So at this point why aren't we sending the bill to Mexico for her years of education?
Illegal immigrants taking up the college spaces American kids should be getting.
They have no intention of returning to Mexico. There is no opportunity there. Now that you have financed the education of illegal aliens, prepare for them to compete to take away your employment. You can share you sob story about having to train your outsourced replacement as a condition of getting your severance payment. It is certainly more economical than keeping an employee until retirement.