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Honor Student Faces Deportation

Posted March 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

Vidal Tapia is by all accounts International High School’s brightest prospect. A teacher-described “pillar of strength” at the Paterson school, he carries a 4.0 GPA, a National Honor Society membership and a slew of community service hours. He was tapped as his class’s valedictorian to give the commencement address in June. Eventually, he wants to work for NASA.

But his plans might fall short of even graduation, not because of any academic problems, but rather an immigration snare. By next week, the 19-year-old senior could be sent back to his native Mexico, barred from returning to the United States for a decade.

Continue here:

http://www.northjersey.com/news/education/031111_Honor_student_faces_10-year_ban_from_US.html

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A Texan Fights for Immigrants

Posted March 6th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

DALLAS — The calls from Malaysia come in daily to Ralph Isenberg, a Texas businessman who has become an unorthodox advocate for immigrants in extreme distress.

From the office of his commercial real estate company here, Mr. Isenberg confers by webcam with Saad Nabeel, a college student who once lived in Texas but now calls from Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Nabeel’s mood shifts from hopeful cheer to reeling despair. And Mr. Isenberg reassures him, time and again, that despite the daunting odds, he will one day return to live in the United States.

Continue here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/us/06deport.html?_r=1&ref=immigrationandemigration

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California’s Dream Act

Posted February 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

From the San Jose Mercury:

State Assemblymen Gil Cedillo and Luis Alejo are trying to find the elusive answer to a question posed by poet Langston Hughes: “What happens to a dream deferred?”

Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, has introduced the California Dream Act, which would give undocumented students access to financial aid, three times in the state Legislature. It has passed three times, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it all three times.

In January, Cedillo, along with principal co-author Alejo, D-Watsonville, announced he would bring a new incarnation of the bill to the Assembly floor this session. Alejo, a freshman assemblyman, has thrown his support behind the bill after meeting numerous undocumented immigrants over the years who were excellent students but did not have the means to attend college, he said.

While some state law makers hope the Dream Act, in the words of Hughes, dries up “like a raisin in the sun,” proponents are encouraged by Gov. Jerry Brown’s comments supporting the bill during his 2010 campaign.

“There are only so many dollars going into education,” said state Sen. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, who is on the Senate Committee for Education. “To fund those here illegally at the cost of those here legally is not good policy.”

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that every year 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools, and 40 percent, 26,000, of those are in California. While California’s Latino population is at the forefront of the debate, students from Asia and the Pacific Islands make up 40 percent of the U.S. undocumented student population, according to the Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA.

“There is money. Thousands of dollars in Cal Grants are not being utilized by students every year,” Alejo said. “We have a whole initiative going on right now to promote Cal Grants so more students will apply.”

Huff is not swayed by Cedillo’s strategy of splitting the bill into two portions – one providing access to privately administered aid and the other to state-funded Cal Grants – saying there is a finite amount of money to go around, especially with large cuts to higher education looming.

Facing a $25.4 billion state budget deficit, Brown has suggested cutting $500 million each from UC and CSU, and $400 million from community colleges.

“We would have to create thousands of new jobs to support the expenditures from this bill, so even if you agree with the principal it doesn’t make budgetary sense,” Huff said.

To qualify for the Dream Act students must file for AB 540 status, the 2001 bill that offered in-state tuition to undocumented students, children of military personnel and others who attended California high schools for at least three years. Under the law, undocumented immigrants must agree to apply for legal status as soon as they are eligible.

“These are smart, hard working kids on a path to naturalization,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is on the education committee. “It’s a simple question for me. Do I want them in the classroom, or do I want them hanging out on a street corner?”

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal says undocumented students, many of whom were brought to the country at a young age by family, are “an innocent group of people who work very hard,” and would like the prohibitions lifted.

“The universities need the right to raise money for these students. That’s the easiest thing to have happen. The regents could approve that,” he said. “Second is to allow some of our return to aid money – we hold back a third of paid tuition to use for students who can’t afford tuition – to be used for these students. And the third thing is to make those students eligible for Cal Grants. The California Dream Act would accomplish that.”

If approved, California would be the third state to offer financial aid to undocumented students after Texas and New Mexico.

All of the legislators interviewed agreed the federal government must work on comprehensive immigration reform, so states do not continue with piecemeal initiatives.

AT A GLANCE

CALIFORNIA DREAM ACT

The state legislation has been previously proposed by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, three times. The current incarnation is split into two bills, AB 130 and AB 131. The first bill would allow students who meet the in-state tuition requirements to apply for and receive specified financial aid administered by California’s public colleges and universities. The types of aid these students would be eligible for include: Board of Governors Fee Waiver and Institutional Student Aid, a student aid program administered by the attending college or university. The second bill would allow students who meet the in-state tuition requirements to apply for and receive Cal Grants.

SOURCE: California State Legislature, www.legislature.ca.gov/port-bilinfo.html

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Oregon’s New In-State Tuition Bill for Undocumented Students

Posted February 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

From the Willamette Week:

A Democratic and a Republican state legislator have introduced a tuition equity bill that would give in-state college tuition to undocumented Oregon students.

Rep. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) and Sen. Frank Morse (R-Albany), along with theOregon Student Association and CAUSA, were all present today at the state Capitol to announce the bill, which would apply to all public Oregon universities.

Morse described the bill as “doing the right thing” for undocumented children who have lived in the United States most of their entirelives and hope to continue their education beyond high school.

“[Undocumented students] have aspirations to continue, but their futures are foreclosed by having to pay out-of-state tuition,” Morse said in a phone interview, adding that “The opposition to the bill is opposition to illegal immigration.”

CAUSA posted a blog entry that lists the qualifications for receiving in-state tuition under the bill.

Other groups supporting the bill included the American Federation of TeachersOregon Education Association and Service Employees International Union.

http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-26493-bill_would_provide_in_state_tuition_for_undocumented_oregon_students.html

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New Republic: How did Arizona become so anti-immigrant?

Posted February 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

In the spring of 2010, the Arizona legislature passed one of the harshest immigration measures in years: SB1070, which makes it a crime for immigrants not to carry documentation at all times. The law ignited a national uproar, the Justice Department announced that it plans to sue the state, and Arizona was pilloried in the press for encouraging racial profiling. Now, however, the state legislature is considering several bills that could be even worse.

Continue here:

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/83639/arizona-immigration-extreme-pearce

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Maryland Dream Act

Posted January 21st, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

From Student Free Press.net

The Maryland state senate will introduce legislation soon that would allow undocumented residents to attend Maryland colleges at a reduced rate.

The “Maryland DREAM Act” would put Maryland in league with 10 other states that provide in-state tuition to students who are not legal residents. The act would apply to students who spent have spent at least three years in, and received a high school diploma from, a Maryland secondary school. Maryland is currently home to an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants.

“In the next 20 years, 30 percent of high school graduates in the state are going to be Hispanic, and a number of them are going to be undocumented,” said State Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is hoping to introduce the bill this session. “We have to find a way to exploit their skills and to help them transition into being Americans.”

Undocumented students have become a battleground issue for states in the past year. In November, California’s Supreme Court ruled the state’s in-state tuition program for undocumented students constitutional. Other states, like Georgia, have gone the other way — in October, the state barred illegal immigrants from the state’s top five public universities.

In December, the federal DREAM Act, which would have provided a provisional path to citizenship for qualifying undocumented residents, failed to make it through Congress.

“Unfortunately for the general assembly, we can’t help them become citizens, but we can help them become productive,” Mendaleno said. “Why not give these children the opportunity to experience the American dream?”

Critics of the federal DREAM Act argued the legislation would cost taxpayers. The Center for Immigration Studies estimated DREAM would cost taxpayers $6.2 billion a year, based on a number of factors, but particularly the cost of higher education — a core element of the bill.

Delegate Anthony O’Donnell has similar problems with the economics of the Maryland DREAM bill.

“We can’t pay our current bills,” he said, “and they’re asking for a taxpayer subsidy — $14,000 to $16,000 per student [at a four year university] for people who, legally, cannot pay taxes.”

Maryland has a $2 billion budget shortfall that could lead to major layoffs of state employees or major cuts in education funding in the next few years.

State Sen. Victor Ramirez has proposed another version of the Maryland DREAM Act, with the condition that the student’s parents must be taxpayers. But since a child who was brought here illegally would likely have parents who were illegal immigrants, neither Madaleno nor O’Donnell is quite sure about how this would work.

“How do you pay taxes without a social security number?” O’Donnell said.

“I’m still curious about that provision,” Madaleno said. “I can’t give you that answer. On the other hand, I live in a very immigrant heavy community and I have to say I’ve never seen anyone say, in a store, ‘I’m not here legally, I don’t pay the sales tax.’ There are a lot of factors.”

A bill similar to the Maryland DREAM Act was actually approved by the General Assembly in 2003, but then vetoed by Gov. Bob Ehrlich. If it passes this time, Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is more likely to sign off on the bill.

Both Madaleno and O’Donnell agreed the Maryland DREAM act could attract illegal immigrants to the state, making Maryland, as some have called it, “a sanctuary state” — which Madaleno welcomes.

“If they do come here [because of the Maryland DREAM act],” he said. “I don’t mean to be difficult, but the better for us. Immigration is the whole American story.”

O’Donnell, however, believes in-state benefits for undocumented students will exacerbate existing problems.

“I’m not coldhearted but I believe the Maryland DREAM act incentivizes breaking the law, while other states are getting busy enforcing the law,” O’Donnell said. “Maryland kids are incurring enough difficulties getting into Maryland schools, and every time you take up a seat, you’ve gotta bump someone else out.”

Kate Havard is a junior at St. John’s College and a member of the Student Free Press Association.

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Citizens of Nowhere

Posted December 24th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

In the wake of the Dream ACT’s failure, a great article from Las Vegas Weekly about an undocumented student.

http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/news/2010/dec/23/citizen-nowhere/

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