Immigration reform is a slowly progressing issue. The federal government has taken baby steps to assist undocumented immigrants, but it is up to the states to bring reform to immigrants in areas such as education. Currently, federal law provides financial aid for both legal and illegal residents through high school, but the funding for illegal residents stops there. The government does not provide financial support for a college education to the young people who were brought illegally into America by their parents.
In May of 2011, Congress passed the DREAM Act, or the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act, according to the National Immigration Law Center, permits some immigrant students to apply for temporary legal status and possibly become a United States citizen given that they attend college or serve in the U.S. Military. The act also was a step forward for states wishing to give aid to their illegal minors because it removed a previous federal provision that penalized states for offering tuition without considering a student’s immigration status.
Despite legislation such as the DREAM Act, the children of undocumented parents still face gaping problems when they finish high school. Since they are not given financial aid or help with tuition for college, many of them cannot receive a full education and therefore find it difficult to become financially successful later on in life. These people remain ingrained into a stereotype of inferiority. Two students can be of the exact same intelligence and talent level, yet the student who is a legal citizen of the United States can be financially boosted into success, while the other student has no such luxury.
According to The New York Times, some states like California have already allowed undocumented high school graduates attending state colleges to pay the same rate as documented students and receive financial aid. In states like New York, immigration laws are advancing. Students can go to the states’ colleges by paying the same price as legal residents. However, college tuition is not cheap, and many undocumented students cannot afford it. An undocumented student could be at the top of his or her class but still not receive any monetary support to attend college.
The children of illegal immigrants are not the ones who have committed the unlawful act of entering the country In fact; many of them have lived the majority of their lives in America, but do not receive the same treatment from the government regarding educational opportunities. Since their illegal status is a result of their parents’ actions, these students should not be forgotten and should be able to receive the same aid as any other student.
Written by STACEY YU