After watching the short online “Teen DREAM Art Documentary”, I became further at a loss for why we continue to punish well-achieving students and take away their dreams of a higher education. This film touches upon the barriers that many undocumented students face through the eyes of Alejandra, a student who was brought to the United States from Mexico illegally by her parents at a young age. Despite her undocumented status, she became deeply involved in her community and volunteered and excelled at school, only to be denied equal access to her dream of going to college.
My feelings are best summed up by Congressman Bob Filner, who is interviewed for the film. Paraphrasing, he says that students who do well in school and want to go to college are qualified to go to college. It’s not their fault that their parents brought them here illegally, they’re not criminals, and they deserve an education.
While the DREAM Act failed to pass in 2010, there is still hope for tuition equity. In February of this year, Oregon passed House Bill 2787 which allows high-achieving high school graduates who have been accepted into an Oregon university to pay in state tuition. This is a big deal because it gives these students a better chance at earning a college degree and being on the path toward becoming an American citizen, without the fear of being deported back to a country that may seem foreign to them. I think what those who oppose this are still hesitant about is the word illegal, meaning that they did not put in the necessary time and money to get the right paperwork to immigrate here legally, so some may see this as a bit unfair to those that did.
While I personally believe that higher education should be easily accessible for everyone, the topic of illegal immigration and tuition equality sparked quite a lengthy discussion today in class, so I would like to ask a question relating to that:
Is tuition equality and citizenship for illegal students unfair for those that immigrated here legally? What about tuition equality for everyone?