This spring, approximately 2. 8 million high school seniors will graduate from various schools around the country. Many will continue their education at college; others will join the armed forces or take another path in life. However, a group of about 65,000 students will be unable to continue on their paths due to their status as illegal immigrants (Dream). Because of their status of illegal immigrants, it is extremely difficult for them to better their way of life. Therefore, illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend public universities.
Illegal immigrants are already allowed to attend our public schools from the lementary level all the way through high school. The 1982 Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe ruled that public schools are prohibited from denying immigrant students access to public schools (Plyler). The court found that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education and are obligated to attend school until they reach the age mandated by state law. Since then, many undocumented immigrants have passed through the public education system.
Currently, it is believed that as many as 4. 9 million undocumented students are attending public schools (Immigration). However, it is difficult to know the exact umber because of their status as undocumented immigrants. One thing that is known for sure is the number will continue to rise, leaving more and more students with undecided futures after graduation. However, the ability for illegal immigrants to attend public universities has largely been left up to the states.
Currently, South Carolina is the only state that prohibits illegal immigrants from attending public universities and colleges that receive state funding; although North Carolina and Alabama both prohibit undocumented people from attending community colleges (Coley). On the other end of the spectrum, nine tates including California, Nebraska, and Texas all offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants (College). New Jersey is also in the process of deciding whether or not to offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Although the states are the only ones to have passed legislation regarding undocumented immigrants attending public universities, there is legislation currently making its way through Congress. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, also known as the DREAM Act, could bring about major changes. It was first introduced in 2007, but failed to make it past the Senate floor. Then this past spring, Senator Durbin from Illinois reintroduced the piece of legislation.
Under the currently proposed DREAM Act, undocumented immigrant students would be given the opportunity to attend institutions of higher education and be able to obtain legal, permanent residency. According to the 2009 version of the Senate bill, DREAM Act beneficiaries must have proof of arriving in the United States before age 16 and live in the United States for five consecutive years since their date of arrival. They would also have to be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment, btain a high school diploma, and have good moral character (Dream).
Any opportunity to attend public universities and possibly achieve legal residency. This piece of legislation is expected to bring some heavy debate in the spring and could bring on some important changes if passed. One very important supporter for illegal immigrants attending institutions of higher education is the College Board. The College Board is made up of 5,000 schools and is best known for its SAT college admissions test. This past July, the board released a report citing a need for federal legislation that would provide in-state ollege tuition, financial aid, and legal status to many illegal immigrants in the United States (College).
The report is the first time the College Board has spoken publicly about the issue. Undocumented immigrants should be given the right to attend public universities and colleges because we have a moral obligation to give them an equal opportunity to better their situation. Many of the undocumented immigrants that currently live in the United States were brought here by their parents. The children did not make the decision to enter the country illegally, their parents did. By not allowing illegal mmigrants to attend public universities, we are essentially punishing them for decisions they did not make.
Also, undocumented immigrants are going to remain and live in the United States regardless of their ability to attend public universities. So if these undocumented immigrants are going to stay here, it makes sense economically to have them be productive as possible. The College Board report shows that with the ability for illegal immigrants to obtain a higher education and move into better paying Jobs, the economy would increase from increased tax revenue and consumer spending College). Additionally, if these undocumented immigrant students are paying for their college education, why not allow them the opportunity to further their knowledge.
Under our current system, illegal immigrants are allowed to attend our public schools at no cost. But when these same illegal immigrants want to pay for a higher education, many of them are turned away because of their legal status. Plus, universities and colleges from all over the country already allow foreign exchange students to attend their universities. Here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, pproximately 6 percent of the student body is from a foreign country (International). There is no controversy on whether or not to allow these students, who are not United States citizens, to attend our public universities.
So if someone is willing to pay their way through college, they should be allowed to attend regardless of residency status. All of these reasons support the passage of the DREAM Act. As of today, it remains one of the last hopes for undocumented immigrants to obtain the right to attend public universities indefinitely. Although nine states have passed legislation allowing or in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, states are increasingly moving towards not allowing them to attend public universities.
Missouri and Virginia are currently considering a ban similar to South Carolina’s that would bar all illegal immigrants from attending public universities and colleges (College). So it is time now more than ever to stand up for undocumented immigrants’ rights. We have a public universities. One rebuttal often brought up in the discussion why illegal immigrants should not be allowed to attend public universities is they are breaking the law by being here in the United States. Although undocumented immigrants are breaking the law, it should not hold them back from furthering their education.
Many illegal immigrants were brought here by their parents and did not make the decision to come here illegally. Illegal immigrants often spend close to their whole lives in the United States. Although they are still considered illegal in the eyes of the law, many are basically Americans because they have lived here for as long as they can remember. It is Just unfair to continue to punish someone for a decision they did not make. Another rebuttal often made against undocumented immigrants is the overnment is subsidizing an education for non-citizens because they do not pay taxes.
The government already subsidizes an education from the high school level on down for everybody regardless of residency status. Also, many undocumented immigrants are unable to obtain residency status in the United States. The long, difficult process of obtaining American citizenship keeps many of these illegal immigrants from paying taxes. The current system we use for obtaining citizenship creates a continual cycle that does not allow for illegal immigrants to pay taxes. If it as easier for undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship, more tax revenue would be brought in to subsidize their education.
In conclusion, there are many factors to consider why illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend public universities. If they are paying their way through college like every other student, then they should be allowed to attend public universities. Plus, many of these undocumented immigrants are going to remain in the United States regardless of their ability to attend universities, so it makes sense to have them be productive as possible. It also does not make sense to punish someone because heir parents came into the United States illegally.