Letter to the Editor: "Go Where the World Goes: Unless you're Jose"

Go Where the World Goes: Unless you're Jose

By: Diana Hernandez, Rosario Cruz, Betsy Chacon, Karina Hernandez, Josieline Hernandez and -Sociology 31

"All students have the human and civil right to a quality public education that develops their potential, independence, and character" (National Education Foundation). The Santa Monica College Corsair Newspaper recently published an article under the opinion section that is against a particular group of people. In this case it targeted undocumented students, specifically of Latino heritage. The editorial cartoon itself is proof of this, depicting a false and stereotypical image of the undocumented student. How many people can say that they have sat next to a sombrero and poncho wearing Mexican? And why does the depicted student have to be a Mexican? This kind of mentality takes us back to the issue that not all Latinos are Mexican, and that not all immigrants are Latinos.

The publication of "A Dream or a Nightmare," shows a lack of judgment and information on behalf of the newspaper and the writer. SMC "prides" itself on being culturally accepting, yet allowing an article like the aforementioned, proves otherwise. The college slogan, "Go Where the World Goes," represents an acceptance of any person from around the world. It does not specify race, heritage, gender, sexual preference, income, and certainly not, legal status.

Listed below are the correct facts that were unfortunately misrepresented in the article. The writers simply want the SMC student body to have the correct information and to understand a different side of the issue regarding undocumented students as well as the DREAM Act.

How were undocumented children integrated in the educational institution?

In 1982, the Supreme Court rules in Plyer v. Doe that public schools were prohibited from denying immigrant students access to a public education. The Court stated that undocumented children have the same right to a free public education (K-12) as U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Undocumented immigrant students are obligated, as are all other students, to attend school until they reach the age mandated by state law. Denying education is a violation of Plyer and the Equal protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

What is AB-540?

In 2002, The UC Regents approved a tuition exemption for certain non-resident students who had attended for at least three years and graduated from a California high school. Students who fulfill the qualifications but who do not have a lawful immigration status must certify that they are taking steps to legalize their immigration status or that will do so as soon as they are eligible. Eligible students will pay the same fees as California residents.


Who's eligible?

·         Domestic students who, for various reasons are classified as non-residents, as well as undocumented students, may be eligible. An example of a potentially eligible non-resident domestic student is one who attended a California high school, but their parents did not live in California or later moved away. Students who met in-state criteria and then established residency in another state, but are now returning to California to pursue a graduate degree, may also be eligible for the tuition exemption. The exemption applies to both undergraduate and graduate students.

·         This new policy does not grant residency status.

·         To be eligible for the tuition exemption, the student must have: Attended a high school in California for three or more years and Graduated from a California high school or attained the equivalent thereof; and Enrolled, or is registering to be enrolled, at the University of California after Jan. 1, 2002.

·         Note that the majority of the students who received AB 540 tuition exemptions during 2007-08 were documented (68%). This is true among both undergraduate AB 540 recipients (60% of whom were documented) and at the graduate level (98% of whom were documented).




What is the DREAM Act?


·         The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. It only applies to individuals who entered the U.S. as children.

·         Young people must meet several requirements in order to qualify for the conditional status it will provide them:

a)      Entering the country when they were under 16 years old

b)      Proving they have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years

c)      Graduated from a U.S. high school or obtained a GED

d)     Demonstrate their good moral character; proving they have not committed any crimes that would make them inadmissible to the country.

 Only then can they obtain a conditional status for a limited period of time.

·         The DREAM Act applicants would be subject to rigorous criminal background checks and reviews.

·         The DREAM Act students would not be eligible for federal grants, period.

·         The DREAM Act will contribute to our military recruitment efforts and readiness.

·         The DREAM Act will make our country more competitive in the global economy.

·         In particular, the DREAM Act will play an important part in the nation's efforts to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, something vital for America to remain competitive in today's global economy.

·         The DREAM Act only applies to young people already in the United States who were brought here as children, it would not apply to anyone arriving later, so it cannot act as a "magnet" encouraging others to come.  Furthermore, DREAM Act applicants would not be able to petition for any family member until the fulfilled lengthy and rigorous requirements outlined above, and even then, they would have to wait years before being able to successfully petition for parents or siblings.

"Passing the Dream Act will unleash the full potential of young people who live out values that all Americans cherish- a strong work ethic; service to others; and a deep loyalty to our country. It will also strengthen our, military, bolster our global economic competitiveness and increase our educational standing in the world"



What do undocumented immigrants contribute to the United States?


·         Last December's report, from the non-partisan, Fiscal Policy Institute Immigrants and the Economy, looked at the 25 largest metropolitan areas (by population) which produce nearly one half of the total gross domestic product of the country. It showed that in the country's main metropolises, the share of the immigrant population stacks up neatly against their share of economic output. For example, immigrants are responsible for 20% of economic output and make up 20% of the population in these 25 metropolitan areas. In other words, immigrants pull their own weight.

·         Between January 2008 and January 2009, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the United States decreased seven percent from 11.6 million to 10.8 million

·         Undocumented immigrants also contribute both in the short term (through paying sales taxes, income taxes, overall purchasing power, and entrepreneurial activities) and long term (by becoming productive citizens and not having to rely on public assistance).

·         They are not eligible to take advantage of almost all of the social service programs offered by the federal government


We are all entitled to our opinions, but there is a way to express them without having to be offensive, and by understanding both sides of any issue. All of Thursday's actions support a need for accurate information, tolerance towards people of different backgrounds, ending the stereotypes, and overall peace and justice for all.