Thursday, August 7, 2008

Should Colleges Enroll Illegal Immigrants?

Some of my fellow DREAMers that I know are featured in this article. Not the best DREAM Act article, but certainly not the worst. Check it out below:

Should Colleges Enroll Illegal Immigrants?
A new front line in the immigration debate: access to higher education


By Eddy Ramírez

She was a national finalist for a prestigious science award and graduated as the valedictorian of her high school class. Now, a senior at a public university in Illinois, she is poised to graduate in the spring with a degree in bioengineering and a 3.84 grade-point average. Despite her impressive academic credentials, Cecylia faces an uncertain future. A native of Poland, she has resided in the United States unlawfully for most of her 21 years. Unless federal immigration laws change and allow undocumented students like her to become legal residents, she won't be able to put her degree to use and work as an American engineer.

For this woman and other undocumented students, who asked not to be identified by their full names for fear that they or their families could be at risk, graduation day—whether it's high school or college—is filled with worry. While a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision entitles illegal immigrants to a free education from kindergarten through high school, neither Congress nor the courts have figured out what to do with the estimated 65,000 undocumented immigrant students who graduate from high school each year once they decide to attend college. Resolving the question of their access to higher education ultimately depends on a federal decision on whether—and how—to move the estimated 11 million-plus illegal immigrants in the United States toward proper citizenship status. A proposed federal law called the Dream Act would enable undocumented students who have attended U.S. schools and met other conditions to gain legal status and qualify for some student aid. But, so far, the meas-ure has failed to win enough support in Congress, leaving states to cobble together their own policies for handling these students in higher ed.

Statewide ban. Some legal scholars believe the federal government has already made a stand. In 1996, Congress passed a law barring states from giving unlawful residents "postsecondary education benefit[s]" that they don't offer to U.S. citizens. But since then, state legislatures in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and six other states have waived out-of-state tuition fees for illegal immigrant students.

The pressure for a firm federal decision is building, though it doesn't appear Congress will address the issue soon.

Heightened concern about the slowing economy and illegal immigration already has led some states to close the doors of higher education on undocumented students. This summer, South Carolina became the first state to ban such students from all of its public colleges and universities. Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, and Oklahoma have also drawn a line in the sand and now deny illegal immigrants in-state tuition benefits. Supporters of these policies say that scarce education dollars should be spent on making college more affordable for U.S. citizens, not illegal immigrants. "At a time of economic hardship for so many Americans, we need to worry about American students," says William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee.

Gheen's group has vigorously opposed colleges offering admission and discounted tuition to undocumented students in fast-growing North Carolina. On August 15, the state's 58 community colleges will consider whether to remove or continue a ban on illegal immigrants. Community college officials adopted the ban in May after the state attorney general's office advised them that admitting unlawful residents conflicted with federal law. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has since told the state that federal law does not bar colleges from admitting illegal immigrants. Immigrant-rights groups are now urging North Carolina's community colleges to once again open their doors to all students.

Advocates of open access say it's cruel and wrongheaded to deny undocumented students higher education and an opportunity to obtain legal status. They argue that these students would ultimately pay more taxes and make greater contributions as professionals and citizens. Jacqueline, a native of Mexico who has lived in North Carolina since she was 8, says undocumented students like her should not be punished for their parents' actions. "So unless they literally kick me out," the 20-year-old says, referring to the pending decision by the community colleges, "I won't leave." Jacqueline says she wants to become a teacher one day and help immigrants learn English. Graig Meyer, who heads a mentoring program for students in the area and has taken Jacqueline under his wing, says: "We have a huge teacher shortage in the state. And [Jacqueline] is exactly the type of student we should be encouraging to go to school."

While an overall crackdown on illegal immigrants in North Carolina has caused some families to flee the state, undocumented students there and elsewhere say they have no intention of returning to their birth countries. Mark, a native of the Philippines who has lived in rural Illinois and California since the age of 5, has grown up a typical American teenager. He listens to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and roots for the St. Louis Cardinals. "English is the only language I speak," says the 25-year-old, who lost legal status after overstaying his visa. "I couldn't see myself ever going back."

Like other illegal students, Mark lives in a state of limbo. He's working to pay for community college classes while waiting for Congress or the courts to take action. To raise awareness about their plight, Mark and other "Dreamers," as undocumented students call themselves because of their hope for Dream Act legislation, have sent letters and made calls to members of Congress. They have also forged strong communities online, where they tell their stories and sometimes raise money for their education.

Facing uncertainty about how their citizenship status will affect their chances of getting a job, some undocumented students currently enrolled in higher education are staying in school longer and, in some cases, pursuing postgraduate degrees. Preshika, a 23-year-old undocumented immigrant from Fiji who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is considering law school while she waits for a green card. In Cali-fornia, she and other graduates of the state's high schools are exempt from paying the steep out-of-state tuition fees that would otherwise discourage many of them from going to college. She already has two degrees: a bachelor's in political science and a master's in international relations.

Tuition lawsuit. But California and other states are now under heavy pressure to repeal in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, represents a group of students who are suing California. Their suit alleges that California is violating a 1996 federal law that prohibits states from favoring illegal immigrants over U.S. citizens. California's tuition rate for out-of-state students is about four times the in-state tuition that undocumented students living there are eligible to receive. According to Kobach's calculations, California taxpayers spend $200 million every year to subsidize the in-state tuition of an estimated 25,000 undocumented students enrolled in the state's public colleges. A judgment in favor of Kobach and his clients might force California to reimburse out-of-state students and drop its in-state tuition policy for illegal immigrants. An appeals court is expected to issue an opinion on the matter soon.

Zan Brennan, the mother of a 2005 graduate of the University of Kansas, says it's an outrage that illegal immigrants in states like California and Kansas can claim in-state tuition while U.S. citizens from neighboring states must pay higher fees. In 2005, her daughter, Brigette, unsuccessfully sued Kansas after being told she would have to pay out-of-state tuition even though she went to a Kansas high school. The reason: Her family lived on the other side of the state border, in Kansas City, Mo.

Cecylia, the undocumented student from Poland, remains hopeful that a new president and federal lawmakers will support a pathway for students like her to become legal residents. Her professors have encouraged her to pursue graduate school. But Cecylia shows little enthusiasm for the idea. For her, graduation day could be bittersweet.

10 comments:

zeezil said...

The statements you hear from advocates for illegal aliens in favor of them having access to our colleges generally flow around their claim that better educated illegals will be more productive and will assimilate better into our society. This is not only fuzzy thinking, it is faulty logic. It’s very precept is that the illegal gets additional benefits to what they have already enjoyed by illegally remaining and operating here and gives a segment of them what they want – unfettered access to our higher education system (in addition to our primary education system that they have already utilized). This, of course, will be costly to the American taxpayer whether the illegal pays out of state tuition or not. It also deprives a deserving citizen or legal immigrant of the seat that the illegal would occupy.

Another marketing campaign is that a child should not be penalized because of the ‘sins’ of their parents. Allowing access to higher education, however, allows the child to benefit from the fact their parents broke the law. Where does the rule of law fit into all of this? Actually, no where. The very act of allowing placement of an illegal alien into our colleges tears at the social fabric of our culture by favoritism to a group people who are out of compliance with our laws. These very same people would then be free to operate lawlessly living and working alongside of citizens and legal immigrants who have been required to abide by our laws. The dichotomy here is not only egregious, it is outrageous. It is anarchy.

Seats in colleges are a limited and highly coveted resource so why should we put an illegal alien into one?

Why should we be in the business of further educating and training a group of people who are illegally here and cannot legally be employed?

zeezil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Swim said...

Zeezil,

You've posted the same thing over and over again. There's no need to do that.

College seats are limited, but admittance has always been based on merit and should always be based on merit. If PR and American citizens can't find a college seat, they are being lazy and they aren't trying hard enough. Look how far undocumented students have been able to get with higher education despite all the roadblcoks and very limited finicial aide. There are DREAMers who already have their masters.

Also please get the correct facts about the DREAM Act. The DREAM Act does not force any state to give undocumented students in-state tuition; it merely gives them the choice. Most undocumented immigrants do pay taxes. And once undocumented students become PR and citizens of this country, they'll pay more than enough taxes in their lifetime to cover their primary school education.

zeezil said...

After careful review, anyone with a even a modicum of logic can come to no other conclusion: illegal immigration must be halted, illegal immigrants here now must be deported and legal immigration needs decreased from the approx. 2 million allowed in per year currently.

Please review the following report on the FISCAL COST OF IMMIGRATION by economist Edwin Rubenstein released in April 2008:
http://www.esrresearch.com/Rubensteinreport.pdf

A partial summary of the report:

The impact on 15 Federal Departments surveyed was: $346 billion in fiscal related costs in FY 2007.

Each immigrant cost taxpayers more than $9,000 per year.

An immigrant household (2 adults, 2 children) cost taxpayers $36,000 per year.

Legal immigrants were not separated out from illegal immigrants for the fiscal impact study, but if they had been, the fiscal cost per ILLEGAL immigrant would be even more shocking than the figures quoted above.

The most extensive and authoritative study, prior to economist Edwin Rubenstein's "The Fiscal Impact of Immigration" (April 2008) , is the National Research Council (NRC)’s The New Americans: Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration (1997).

The NRC staff analyzed federal, state, and local government expenditures on programs such as Medicaid, AFDC (now TANF), and SSI, as well as the cost of educating immigrants’ foreign- and native-born children.

NRC found that the average immigrant household receives $13,326 in federal annual expenditures and pays $10,664 in federal taxes—that is, they generate a fiscal deficit of $2,682 (1996 dollars)per household.

In 2007 dollars this is a deficit of $3,408 per immigrant household.

With 9 million households currently headed by immigrants, more than $30 billion ($3,408 x 9 million) of the federal deficit represents money transferred from native taxpayers to immigrants.

Our national immigration policies have to work for the United States. While improving the plight of the world’s poor is a laudable goal, the finite resources we have available to fulfill that goal would be swamped if there wasn’t some orderly and manageable system in place to limit entry into the United States to what this nation can actually support. The more illegal aliens that are permitted to subvert the immigration system, the fewer immigrants we can accommodate who might actually produce a positive benefit for our country.

The more we become a nation of illegal immigrants, the deeper we fall into anarchy.

zeezil said...

swim:
Every post had different and relevant content to the debate. What is it with you libs and illegal alien huggers...can't debate the facts and merits of the topic? So you engage in censorship to hide the truth? It appears what has been said about liberal facism is true.

Lal said...

zeezil, you copy and paste the same crap all over the web. Is originality dead or do you not have anything new to say? No one wants to hear the same old warrantless regurgitations

zeezil said...

Liberals, bleeding hearts, anarchists and illegal aliens huggers twist themselves into knots spewing false propaganda that illegal aliens are a benefit to our country and economy. Study after study after study proves just the opposite. Let’s call a spade a spade…illegal aliens are a huge NET COST LOSS to America, an economic drain and burden on our country.
The sooner we build the fence, secure the border, restore lawful order and rationality to our immigration system and deport those who are here illegally, the better off America will be.

Swim said...

Zeezil,
First of all, lots of undocumented immigrants do pay taxes.

Second, the purpose of this blog is to focus on undocumented students(not all undocumented immigrants). I know a lot of the oppostion doesn't see a difference, but there is. Give DREAMers a chance to become legal and they would pay back in taxes the education they received in k-12and much more.

Anonymous said...

firstly zeezil, we DO pay taxes. my mother pays them every year and she is happy to do that. secondly, im a DREAMer and i know that what is givin to me is a gift and i know that i must treated as such. i have been in this country since i was 3 years old and im a polylinguist at that. i make the honor roll almost every year and i have been sought after by many a college and tested post high school in all language levels so dont say that im just here to be a nuceanse because im not and take your bull somewhere else because all you do is talk out your ass! so have a nice day ahole!

zeezil said...

Anonymus...your coment is spoken like a true illegal alien. A violator of our laws who for some reason has a sense of entitlement that they have the right to be in America illegally and receive special considerations from the American citizden taxpayers. Fact is, anonymus, you reside ILLEGALLY in the U.S. so take your foul mouth discourse up with your parents who broke the law by dragging you here over the border. The problem is Anonymus, allowing you to remain in the U.S. is allowing you to benefit from the illegal actions of your parents. Here's a word of advice...depart of your own volition before the long arm of the law eventually catches up with you. It will be easier for your family since we won't have to hear any wailing about families being torn apart (which, of course, is all your own families fault, not law enforcements). Then, once back in your county where you are actually citizens, if you so desire to immigrate to the U.S., go to the nearest consulate within your home country and initiate the paperwork to do so legally. Lastly, immigration to the U.S. is a priviledge we extend to deserving people from other countries who exhibit good moral and mental characteristics. Remember, coming to the U.S. is a privledge, not a right.