By Louis Penna |Managing Editor|
[Originally published in 11/17/11 print edition, pg. 7]
Starting 2013, certain undocumented migrant students will be able to qualify for state financial aid at public universities and community colleges. Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 131, the second half of the California Dream Act. This bill’s passing puts illegal immigration at the forefront of political controversy one again. Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino), a former border-monitoring Minuteman, calls the bill “morally wrong.”
“We have just created a new entitlement that is going to cause tens of thousands of people to come here illegally from all over the world,” said Donnelly.
Morally wrong. On black-and-white principle alone, Donnelly could be considered right. Students whose parents do not contribute tax monies that help fund the CSU, UC and CCC systems should not be able to benefit from it.
But illegal immigration is not black and-white—it’s complicated. In fact, it is so damn complicated that not one session of Congress has even had a vote on immigration reform. That’s unacceptable.
Depending on how they are employed, undocumented migrants actually do pay taxes through paycheck deductions like social security, state and federal income taxes, as well as sales taxes.
Regardless of who is paying their dues, there still is a human element to this that many of those opposed to this bill forget, or rather not think about.
Many high school students who wished to be admitted into an affordable college were crushed to hear that they were considered as illegal, undocumented non-citizens. Imagine going through the entire K-12 system, thinking you were just like any other kid at school, to find out that you are not even a citizen of the only country you ever called home.
On top of that, you now have to pay thousands more for your tuition at the exact same college that Penny Pennington, your now former best friend because she found out you were an “illegal,” pays nothing due to a full ride scholarship that you were more qualified for in the first place but couldn’t apply for.
This is the overly dramatic truth that many migrant students faced before. Students from all around California and other states find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.
To deny these children a post-secondary education is, too use Donnelly’s words, “morally wrong” and counterintuitive to what our society and education system proposes for achieving success.
Instead of working fruit fields or construction sites like some of their parents, now these students can receive a college education prevent a permanent underclass forever ostracized as “illegals.”
It gets more complicated—future graduates who benefit t from the bill cannot be legally hired in the U.S.
As of now, the state stands to gain zero specially educated workers from the bill that created the opportunity for their education in the first place.
This is where the federal government must make a decision. California is hoping that AB 131 will push the federal government to pass their own DREAM Act. This bill, with the current provisions is an answer to America’s illegal immigration controversy.
The federal DREAM Act contains strict eligibility requirements such as the individual must: meet a 5-year residency requirement, have graduated from an American high school and undergo a law enforcement background check along with other stipulations.
The bill only applies to those under 29 years of age during its enactment and allows for a path to permanent residency after two years of military service or two years towards four-year degree have been completed. This bill has bounced around the legislative branch of government since its introduction in 2001.
Despite the huge leaps and bounds the federal DREAM Act would make on immigration, it still does not address the root cause of the problem: the border.
One way or another the government has to stop the source of illegal immigration: our national borders. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 62 percent of illegal immigrants originate from Mexico.
Build a wall, moat of fire, booby-trap, anything to prevent further migration if that’s what the country wants.
The American people are tired of the status quo when it comes to illegal immigration.
Neither side of this issue is at ease with current conditions and the situation is only gradually worsening. The federal government must face the inconvenient truth that illegal immigration must be dealt with now.