Letter to the Editor: "A Dream of a Nightmare"

Dear SMC Community, In response to the "A Dream of a Nightmare" editorial by Julie Newsome (November 24, 2010), we would like to point out some misinformation and provide you with some little known facts about AB 540 students.  We were disheartened by the lack of sensitivity on the part of the Corsair staff for a group of fellow SMC students who contribute so much to our community.   The student sitting next to you or in your study group may be undocumented.   Does it really matter?   We invite you to talk to your classmates and determine whether the solutions to your problems can be found by demeaning someone else.

Here is some important information:

--All children residing in this country have a constitutional right to attend elementary and secondary public schools for free regardless of legal status.A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plyler vs. Doe in 1982 settled the issue based on the 14th Amendment.

--The recent decision to uphold AB540 was made by the California State Supreme Court not the U.S. Supreme Court as stated in the article.

--All AB 540 students must also have graduated from a California high school, a fact Ms. Newsome left out.

--Although the law was created to assist undocumented students, the largest groups to take advantage of this bill are U.S. citizens and permanent residents.  How can this be?   U.S. citizens who have benefited from AB540 include graduates of California boarding schools, students whose parents were transferred because of military or business, and students who return to California after residing in another state.

--In the 2007-08 school year 400 undocumented students were enrolled in the UC system (out of 220,000 students!).  The total number of AB540 students that year was 1,941 and the other 1,541 were either U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

--Not all undocumented AB540 students are Latino.  According to the University of California "Annual Report on AB540 Tuition Exemptions 2008-09" during 2005-06 to 2008-09  43% of undocumented AB 540 students were Asian and 49% were Latino.    They come from Vietnam, Pakistan,  Romania, and the Philippines as well as Mexico,  Central and South America.

--Recently published research by Claremont Graduate University professor William Perez showed that 78% of 200 undocumented students held some sort of leadership position in high school or college including editor of the yearbook, captain of a sports team or a role in student government.

--Eight years after California's Legislature adopted AB540 undocumented students account for 1 percent or less of all students in the state's three higher education systems,  hardly a threat to the education of U.S. citizens.

--The California Chamber of Commerce called AB540 good for the state's economy and work force quality.

As counselors in the Latino Center we invite you to take advantage of the resources here regardless of your origin or immigration status.



Maria Martinez, Program Leader, Adelante Program                Patti Del Valle, Counselor, Latino Center

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