Lessons in Futility?

This spring, 65,000 undocumented immigrants will graduate from
high school in the United States. Thousands more are currently
enrolled in the nation’s colleges. Many of these students came to
the United States at a young age, either with their families or to
be with them. They grew up in the US, indistinguishable from their
‘legal’ peers.

Writing for
Los
Angeles
City Beat, Ana La O’ reports that getting an education
is becoming easier for undocumented immigrants, particularly in
California. In 2001, the state’s Legislature passed the ‘California
Dream Act,’ which granted in-state tuition to any person who
attended a California high school for at least three years, meaning
both out-of-state and undocumented students could enjoy more
affordable college tuition (previously, most undocumented
immigrants attended community colleges). Students don’t need to
worry that applying for school through the provision will alert
authorities to their illegal status. ‘We are not an immigration
organization,’ says University of California spokesperson Richard
Vazquez.

While California’s approach has paved a path to education for
undocumented immigrants, the road after graduation remains blocked.
As La O’ notes, the diplomas this ‘first generation’ of
undocumented college students are about to get don’t entitle them
to legal work — a frustrating prospect for those plugging away at
four years of academia in the name of betterment through education.
What’s more, reports Melissa Renter?a for the
San
Antonio
Express-News, the struggles of graduating undocumented
students might influence their younger family members. As College
Board president Gaston Caperton said at the annual Hispanic
Association of Colleges and Universities conference: ‘Their younger
siblings run a greater risk of dropping out because they’ve seen
other students work hard for nothing.’

There is a glimmer of hope for undocumented students. The
proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or
DREAM Act, would grant citizenship to undocumented students who
entered the country before they turned 16, have been living in the
United States at least five years, and who graduate from a US high
school. The students would then go to college or join the military,
Renter?a reports. Presently the legislation is still just a dream:
It’s not expected to pass this year, if ever.

Go there >>
The Hidden Classes
Go there too >>
Educators Push Help For Students Without Legal
Status

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