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.
Better get used to having these folks around; this is the only way the Democrat Party can find new voters.
And yet, we are asked to think of the treatment afforded HER as being somehow lacking.
cost of illegal immigration in California in only 3 areas.
A 1996 federal law, 8 U.S.C § 1623, explicitly states that no state may grant resident status to an illegal alien living in that state and attending a public college or university unless the state grants the same benefit to all out-of-state students attending those public colleges or universities. The plaintiffs also contend that the California policy also violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution.
For one grade's worth for those who actually graduate.
Seriously, no matter how fair that might be, Mexico isn't going to pay us anything. I understand the burden that illegals represent. However, we have already paid for her education. She is obviously hard working, and as a college graduate she will be a productive member of society. Why pay to educate her and throw her out, when she will likely become a much bigger tax payer than a tax consumer if we let her stay?
She needs to go back and help Mexico become a productive society or to foment revolution to force the government to pay for Mexican children to go to school beyond the 6th grade.
" How Kennedyesque."
"This girl is exactly the kind of American immigrant we want."
Yeah, but she is not an immigrant. She is illegal .
See post 17 for the rest of your enlightenment. SHEESH!
Boo frickin' hoo! A lot of American citizens who are very intelligent can't afford Princeton either.
The AP printed their entire names and school locations. I guess the AP wants readers to report these illegal aliens? DHS/ICE sure makes it confusing to figure out where.
Although Razon didn't have much choice in being brought here illegally, she is probably an adult now (at SFSU) and should take responsibility to make the effort to legalize her status.