Questioning the DREAM Act (by Guest Blogger Lisa Quijano)

After listening to the Think Out Loud broadcast and watching the Teen DREAM Act Documentary, I don’t understand why immigration and education are together.  Don’t get me wrong, I sympathized with the position those students were in, but I don’t think I can support it.  The reason I say that is because it is mandatory for children to receive K-12 education regardless, the U.S. is required to give children an education regardless of origin.  The/A path to citizenship should be a separate issue than attending college. 

I agree with those who say that attaining a college degree is a choice.  Undocumented/illegal high school graduates should be given a path to citizenship.  Once they attain citizenship is when they can apply for a college education.  If we “don’t want to punish children”, once they successfully finish high school, and can prove they are law abiding, give them an opportunity so they can then become citizens.  I think for the DREAM Act or any legislation to move forward to allow in state tuition for non residents should also include language to address any U.S. citizen’s rights to pay in state tuition regardless of what state they were born in.  Any U.S. born citizen should have the ability to attend any U.S. college campus and be given in state tuition if legislation is going to be passed in that state.  I am a U.S. citizen.  I have lived here my whole life.  To get in state tuition, I have to live in that state for a specified time before I can qualify to receive in state tuition rates.  Only after I completed this requirement I was then considered a resident and could qualify.  The DREAM Act or any other legislation allowing undocumented/illegal persons to receive in state tuition without also giving that same allowance to any U.S. citizen is unfair for students wishing to attend college, but don’t have the means to do so.

To me, the real issue is trying to find a way to give citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. illegally.  Do you think immigration and education should be tied together?  How far should government extend the childhood arrivals to (age limits)?  It seems like until age 30 is very lenient, basically saying if you were a child arriving here from 1983 you can apply for this waiver “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”, “Under the new policy, people 30 and younger who arrived in the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military, can get a two-year deferral from deportation and apply for work permits”. .  Thinking ahead, if citizenship was granted, wouldn’t student’s citizenship then create a loophole that they could then petition for their relatives to become citizens as well?


Other links

Just a note, in this legislation, there is no mention of U.S. citizens getting the same in state allowance as undocumented/illegal persons.


10 thoughts on “Questioning the DREAM Act (by Guest Blogger Lisa Quijano)

  1. Well everything else aside, I think that they qualify for instate tuition in states they have already lived in for the specified amount of time, partially due to the fact that their family has been working in and contributing to that states community for how ever many years. I do not agree that any u.s. Citizen should be able to get in state tuition wherever they fancy. Instate tuition is a courtesy that encourages tax paying residents, to earn a higher degree to make themselves and their state more money. I am currently paying out of state tuition at PSU, I do not plan live and work in Oregon, it is a lot of money that said I qualify for loans,grants and other such financial aid–something that is not available to ease the burden or even make it realistic for the undocumented to attend higher education. Can we really justify turning away those who are undocumented currently,mostly due to the result or our economic and immigration policies in the first place, and assigning then to fulfill the lowest ranking jobs? Keeping education and immigration separate is just another way to ensure we don’t have to look at why this happens in the first place and means we can keep another generation without any rights, to do with as we please or invite them to leave.

  2. Brooke,

    I need to clarify, what I meant when I said that U.S. citizens should get instate tuition to any U.S. college, I only mean where laws have been passed in that state to allow immigrants instate tuition.
    My point was that if U.S. citizens are required to be both (U.S. citizens and “residents” to get instate tuition, then why can illegal immigrants be one without the other (“resident” and not a U.S. citizen) to get instate tuition. To me, it seems backwards.
    “The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (Sec. 505) prohibits states from providing a postsecondary education benefit to an alien not lawfully present unless any citizen or national is eligible for such benefit. (P.L. 104-208) Unauthorized immigrants are ineligible for federal financial assistance and state assistance for higher education. Unauthorized immigrants are also ineligible to work in the U.S. The Supreme Court has ruled that children, regardless of immigrant status, must be provided elementary and secondary education. When students without legal residency apply for college they are asked for a social security number and citizenship status. While they may still be allowed to attend, they are not eligible for federal aid until they gain legal immigration status”
    Illegal Immigrant children should be given an opportunity to become US citizens before they can be eligible for in state tuition. Like how US citizens must meet residency before being eligible for instate tuition.

    By the way, here is another site, may be more unbiased that I am


  3. There is a fine line between education and immigration. I think that they should be 2 totally seperate issues, but it always seems to come back together like the church and state issue. I don’t think it’s ok to charge out of state tuition for students that have been in this country their whole life and graduated high school, but the fact of the matter is, if they aren’t US citizens and here legally, then we have to treat everybody the same and make them pay tuition that is different. Maybe we don’t make them pay the international price but a different price altogether?

    Also, if the child’s parent(s) are here illegally, then the child shouldn’t have to be penalized because of their parents, but how can that child live a normal life and “fly under the radar” their whole life? I believe that the parents should be thinking of thier child’s future and become a citizen for their child’s sake.
    There are so many ethical and moral issues that come with education and immagration that it’s hard to seperate the two. I also can’t believe that undocumented children who are in this country illegally can go to public school. Personally, I don’t think that is ok. They are using resources from other children who are in this country legally.

    • Nicole,

      I’m slightly confused, it seems like you are making two contradicting statements. You mention that “if the child’s parents are here illegally, then the child shouldn’t have to be penalized because of their parents…” Yes, I agree with you. At the bottom of your post, you state, “I also can’t believe that undocumented children who are in this country illegally can go to public school. Personally, I don’t think that is ok (along the lines of using resources).” Well, if the child shouldn’t have to pay for their parents mistakes and we are treating them like equals then why would we be concerned with them using public school resources? If we are going to make statements about the children living a normal life and having a hopeful future, then isn’t attending public school instrumental for that to occur?

      Hopefully you can clarify.


  4. Nicole,
    I agree with you. If immigrants are here legally (either being residents, or green card, some sort of documentation that they can be in the U.S.) and have gone through all the hoops they need to be here, they should be granted some sort of discount other than international or non resident tuition.
    If laws get passed allowing illegal immigrants some benefit (going to college is a benefit), what does that say to all of the immigrants who are trying to get citizenship legally and have to wait years and years to get it granted?

  5. I think education and being able to see a path to a better future (often provided by citizenship) are very closely related. I’ve worked with numerous youth, including undocumented teens who by the time they are in middle school know what possibilities exist in their future – whether they can or cannot go to college, whether they will be stuck working the same jobs as their parents, or how hard they will have to continue to try to stay under the radar and yet make the life they want to have. It is overhwelming for youth and the adults who work with them, who try to motivate and inspire, yet both know that to a certain extent the options are limited. I think the current system is unfair to educators, mentors, and most importantly youth and families who work so hard to excel and be the best they can be and then come to the reality that they cannot go any further. I don’t think it is healthy or good longterm policy.

  6. Lisa & Nicole,

    While I can certainly see where you both are coming from, and I do agree that it would be nice to keep education and immigration separate, I do not think it’s possible anymore. The USA runs on a foundation of illegal immigrants doing work that many citizens would not want to do or would not do that cheaply, leaving those people with little rights and little opportunity. Besides that, America was founded to give people equality and freedom, and we were founded by immigrants. So, instead of looking at what we can do to keep everything fair, maybe we should look at how it would benefit our country’s future? It would certainly help us to educate an underutilized set of people as well as give them access to a better future, too. It’s hard for me to be against something that would benefit so many people, even if it upsets some people. The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts, I suppose.


  7. Lisa,

    It sounds like you have done your research, understand the laws, and from that have formulated your thoughts on the issues at hand. I wanted to offer my opinion on the questions you provided. As far the questions of whether or not immigration and education should be tied together, I would argue that they should. One of the main reasons is that anyone can attend public school without documentation. While I do not necessarily agree that this is a good thing, it already creates a tie with immigration and education. Funding aside, allowing immigrant students who were born in this country and attended public school should at least have the opportunity to get a college education, something that our country preaches. It seems like the underlying question is how many people are we going to make mad by allowing these students to get an affordable education assuming all other conditions be set equal? Jenifer makes a good point, wouldn’t educating these students in turn benefit our economy as a whole? If they wish to gain citizenship and stay in the country, then allowing education to be a means for which that is possible seems like it would allow the most contribution from cost.

    Further, you raised the questions of whether or not being granted the waiver up to 30 years of age is too lenient? I think this is a good question, and one that there isn’t a great answer to. My only thought is that they had to draw the line somewhere, and 30 seems like it does a good job of extending the opportunity to immigrants who are still of the age to be educated and employed for an extended period of time. I would be more curious to know how the age of 30 was decided upon by the government, and why you feel it to be leinant. Is this just a general feeling for the issue or is there an age that you see to better fit?

    These are all touchy topics, but it’s fun to hear and learn form everyones thoughts.


  8. Zach,
    I agree all touchy subjects, and I am glad that we seem to have different opinions/thoughts on it. I just feel that if undocumented students were given a path to citizenship not related to school or military, then at least they can get a legal job and contribute to the state’s economy that way too. If not all U.S. citizens go to college, then I would also assume that not all undocumented students would go to college as well. So if they do decide not to continue their education or get into military service, wouldn’t that leave them still undocumented and flying under the radar? If they were given a path to citizenship regardless of after high school intent, I think that would be the best thing for everyone.

  9. This is going to sound horrible, especially because I want to go into teaching, but up until Monday’s class I had no idea what the Dream Act was about. I knew it had to do with immigrants and education but I didn’t know to what extent. Based on that class discussion, some of the readings, and theses posts, I feel like there is still a lot to learn. Individually education and immigration are both intense topics and when mixed together, it becomes messy. I believe that everyone has a right to a high school education regardless of what type of papers they have. However, the subject of receiving a college education is different. I think a person should be a resident and be a U.S. citizen in order to receive instate tuition. These rules should apply to everyone. I have a friend who is attending PSU and lives in Vancouver Washington (literally 20 minutes away). She is a U.S. citizen and is considered “out of state”. Is that fair? I’m not entirely sure what should be done in order to make both immigrants and U.S. citizens happy. However, whatever it is, should be done so each has an equal opportunity to receive a higher education…at the same price.

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