Well-educated and undocumented
by JESSICA TERRELL
Thousands of undocumented college graduates face major hurdles while looking for employment. Most were brought here by their parents.
Carried into the United States in her mother's arms, Maria became a criminal when she was just over 2-weeks-old.
Of course, she did not know that at the time. Maria found out that she was an illegal immigrant when she began applying to colleges at 17, and told herself that if she was unable to gain U.S. citizenship by the time she was 30, she would leave the country forever.
Now 22-years-old and a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton, Maria, who is still undocumented, said that she tries not to think about her lack of citizenship and the obstacles it could create for her future.
Maria is one of thousands of students in Orange County who have been able to attend college through AB 540, a California law that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, rather than the higher fee charged to non-California residents.
The Register is withholding the full names of the undocumented students at their request and under newspaper policy that recognizes the potential for retaliation against them.
Undocumented students are ineligible for state or federal financial aid, but do get help under a policy that allows them to pay the same fees as California residents. For example, non-California residents pay an additional $20,608 a year at the University of California; up to $10,170 at the California State University: and up to $170 per unit at community colleges.
Since AB 540 was enacted in 2001, a growing number of undocumented students in California have been able to pursue college degrees. There are no statewide numbers on how many undocumented students receive help through the program or how much they receive.
While the bill has opened doors to some undocumented students, it has also created a big debate about the legality and merit of subsidizing education for illegal immigrants. And for students like Maria, who would not otherwise have been able to afford higher education, AB 540 has created a huge unanswered question: What happens after graduation?
Full article here.