It’s dumb to block smart kids from going to college, even if they’re here illegally

WASHINGTON — With Americans furious over illegal immigration — Democrats, independents, Republicans and tea partiers — there is little hope for comprehensive immigration reform this year. Incredibly, a majority supports Arizona’s ugly new law, which — no matter what its proponents say — begs for racial profiling.

The harsh political climate may begin to look a bit sunnier as the recession recedes and hiring picks up. In fact, there is room even now for leadership on the issue of illegal immigration.

While 58 percent of Americans support Arizona’s approach, 57 percent of the nation favors allowing undocumented workers a path to citizenship. Voters could probably be persuaded to support comprehensive immigration reform if Democratic leaders made a sustained push for it.

Until that happens, Congress ought to concentrate on a few small bills that would represent a modest improvement over the current reality for millions of those without papers — a life of living in the shadows, without legal protections, with continual fear of deportation and little chance for improved circumstances.

One of the best opportunities lies in the DREAM Act, which would allow promising undocumented students to start a path toward citizenship if they meet certain standards. The proposal — pushed for years by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — is intended to boost illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, have finished high school and want to attend college or join the U.S. Armed Forces. The bill is a win not only for those students, but also for the country as a whole.

Much of the fury directed at illegal immigrants feeds off the notion that many of them are unfairly taking advantage of benefits that should be restricted to American citizens. However, that’s not the case with college; undocumented students are not displacing bona fide citizens who have been denied a seat in Calculus II.

In fact, the United States doesn’t have nearly enough students attending college. President Obama has talked again and again about the country’s decline in educational attainment: the U.S. used to the lead the world in the number of people with college degrees, but we’ve fallen behind.

Our declining educational attainment comes as a structural change in the labor force has made post-secondary education more necessary for middle-class wages. According to Georgetown University researchers, there will be more positions demanding a two-year degree than qualified applicants to fill them by the year 2018.

In that climate, we can hardly afford to obstruct ambitious, hardworking young people who want to attend college and join the great American mainstream. According to some estimates, 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. Why not let them attend college or join the military and then attain permanent legal status?

The DREAM Act doesn’t attempt to determine whether students here illegally should be charged in-state tuition. State legislatures would still be free to charge them the higher out-of-state rate, if they chose.

Nor would the DREAM Act attract a steady stream of illegal border-crossers. It is narrowly tailored for students who entered the country before the age of 15 and have lived here continuously for at least five years.

The act, would, however stop cold the kind of narrow-minded natavism that has gripped Georgia Republicans. According to Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jim Galloway, 14 GOP state senators have demanded that Georgia colleges and universities refuse to accept students without papers.

Georgia has prospered because it has imported college graduates from other states, and it still needs a better eductated workforce. It’s shameful that so many of its elected officials believe it’s critical to deprive students of the opportunity to get a degree just because they entered the country illegally years ago.

It is a sensible proposal that deals with a small part of the problem of illegal immigration. Neverthless, Sen. Durbin seems willing to allow the bill to languish until the Senate takes up comprehensive immigration reform, which seems unlikely this year.

That leaves undocumented achievers such as Jessica Colotl, a student at metro Atlanta’s Kennesaw State University, and Eric Balderas, who attends Harvard, to live with fear and uncertainty. It’s in their best interests to pass the DREAM Act soon — and in the country’s best interests, as well.

416 comments Add your comment

Americans are treated worst than illegals

June 21st, 2010
9:31 am

Hey Mark, as a black man in America, (mind you – I am not an angry black man) there are times when I feel the black community “whines and moans” about petty issues, which at times, I cannot relate to. To be honest with you, I am pretty bored of the “R” (racism) word. It just seems to get old and worn out. I would prefer to talk about more pressing issues such as world hunger, education, and the economy. However, for some reason, as a black man in America, I seem to have some of the strangest experiences when I am doing some of the simpliest things in life. When I am around other people getting gas for my car, shopping in a store, or walking down the street minding my own business, I get cussed, I get followed, and pretty much get no respect from complete strangers. Sure I can say it is racism. However. I also know sometimes some people may have issues. Heck, I admit, even I have issues. So, if I am having these experiences there may be other individuals dealing with the same issues and they prefer to vent about it. Some may call it whining or moaning, however, I prefer to call it voicing a concern. Besides, I would rather a person vent on a blog page than pull out a can of whip a@# on me while I am shopping at my local Kroger.

HDB

June 21st, 2010
9:31 am

Mark June 21st, 2010
8:47 am

Mark, the preponderance of Black Americans are law-abiding, educated, tax paying citizens; the problem is that many here feel that discrimination no longer exists…where the opposite is true! Not only would such draconian laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 focus on Hispanics……ANY person could be detained on the whim of the police….but many like you don’t see that happening. Many Caucasians don’t see the police as threats to personal liberty…..but you are desiring a police state replete with Jim Crow laws. Are you as harsh on the EMPLOYERS as you are on the laborers??

Immigration is an important issue……but too many here are allowing thier racial animosity to show rather than their logic!!

BTW: I’ve listened to Cosby…and have no issue! I am one of the educated, law-abiding, tax paying Black Americans that you don’t believe to exist………

Mark

June 21st, 2010
9:54 am

HDB and Americans treated worst…thank you for sharing your thoughts, I sense we are all frustrated….and beleive it or not I see police as a threat….but, when I travel outside of the US, I make sure to have my papers,passport,VISA and will present when asked, simple as that, you have to respect the LAWS of the country where you are, again,very simple…we have laws in America, that are laughed at by the illegals, ENFORCE the law….try going to Mexico and watch how they handle their illegals

HDB

June 21st, 2010
10:25 am

Mark June 21st, 2010
9:54 am

Many THINK they are frustrated…but what they are doing is showing their xenophobia…..

As I’ve asked before….how many people are going after the EMPLOYERS vs. LABORERS??

Having traveled extensively overseas, I’ve YET to be asked to produce proof save going through customs; why?? When I ‘m overseas, I attempt to use the language and assimilate into the climate!!! People KNOW I’m American….but I’m respected because I attempt to communicate and respect them in their language!!

Laws like SB 1070 will lead to the beginning of the police state…..but too many desire that to keep certain minorities at bay…..I pray that doesn’t happen…..

Ayn Rand was right

June 21st, 2010
10:37 am

Kamchak – It is still my right to “bitch” about anyone I like, just as it is your right to call names, and judge people for their bad habits (even those shared by most in her time).

I “bitched” and will continue to “bitch” about all elected officials who talk a good game and do nothing, no matter their affiliations.

BTW – my point was directed at your complaint that people on the blog let it ride for 24 years, but now were complaining. I merely was highlighting that Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi said they wanted to clean up Washington if elected…it was their idea, now they are complaining about the mess, but not sweeping up a spec.

Mark

June 21st, 2010
10:37 am

HDB…Well Obama is leading us into a third world socialist state….and I think you meant ” assimilate into the culture, not climate”….in my travels, I have learned not to always play the America card, kidnapping,robbery and ransom phone calls are known to happen…be careful

Mark

June 21st, 2010
10:40 am

and HDB….I think we should have a National ID card, would classify you as a citizen, permanent resident, etc…see nothing wrong with that….not a police state what so ever

Can't we all just get along?

June 21st, 2010
11:19 am

In all of your rants of hatred toward CT you all forget to realize that this is an OPINION BLOG. She’s not speaking for anyone but herself and allowing all of us to offer our opinions.

Kamchak

June 21st, 2010
1:20 pm

It is still my right to “bitch” about anyone I like…

Never claimed that you didn’t have that right.

…just as it is your right to call names, and judge people for their bad habits (even those shared by most in her time).

Most people “in her time” weren’t sociopaths.

BTW – my point was directed at your complaint that people on the blog let it ride for 24 years, but now were complaining. I merely was highlighting that Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi said they wanted to clean up Washington if elected…it was their idea, now they are complaining about the mess, but not sweeping up a spec.

I had no trouble whatsoever understanding what you were highlighting, but what you actually said was:

Kamchak – I believe that Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi claimed to be bringing brooms to Washington DC to clean up the mess. Great place to start, I say.

Sounds to me that you were advocating that they be pro-active.

It’s my guess, however, that no matter what they did, you would bitch.

clark

June 21st, 2010
5:23 pm

Cynthia, let me ask you this, do you actually obey any sort of law and order? If you are saying that the children are too young to know anything but to follow their parents then how is that not attract a steady flow of illegal immigration? Because the message is clear: Come to the US any way you can, with child younger than 15, then you’ll be able to stay. I am pretty sure that kids younger than 15 are not able to travel through the desert, inside cargo holds, or on a raft by themselves.
Cynthia, do you actually stand in line for anything? Getting a burger at McDonld’s, waiting in line for a cashier, getting gas, anything?? Believe it or not, there are people around the world right now, staying in line for the immigration process. What do you say to those people obeying the US immigration law? Do you just give them the finger and say “you should have done it the quicker way, have kids and home free, no one stays in lines any more these days”?

As for the Harvard kid, his admission to Harvard needs to be verified. Do you know now many high school kids get rejected by Harvard every year? Do you mean to tell me that the year he was accepted into Harvard, no one else was up to par with this kid, but was not accepted for some reason??

plax

June 22nd, 2010
7:59 am

More insanity from CT I see. Why don’t you fit the bill for their college education then Cynthia? Oh that’s right, you don’t want to actually DO anything for your supposed “causes,” you just want everyone else to.

Amando

June 22nd, 2010
11:54 am

“Immigrants”. This country is a Country of Immigrants. Always keep that in your minds. Not just you were born here you’re not Immigrants. Always remember where you came from??? Only the Natives here are not immigrants.

Sethe

June 23rd, 2010
10:43 pm

Yes, this country was built by immigrants- people who came to this country LEGALLY through Ellis Island. They worked hard and committed themselves to LEARNING THE LANGUAGE of the U.S. and assimilating themselves into our culture.

Most of the illegal immigrants are profiting off of this country at the expense of citizens.

How are they contributing?

Sure, they provide cheap labor, but at what cost to citizens?

They get FREE education, FREE health care, welfare, etc. Not bad for them- no wonder they stay.

Who pays for it? -anyone who pays taxes in this country.

They sure don’t. Ok, maybe they pay some modicum of $ through their stolen social security numbers- from citizens.

Thanks for your contribution?!!

I’m all for letting people come to this country if they do it the LEGAL way, but these people are committing crimes and thumbing their noses at citizens the entire time.

Again, who pays for it? Not Monolito and Jorge!

Anyone who supports illegal immigration has their own hidden selfish agenda- votes or cheap labor.

It makes me sick when people use the excuse “but we’re all immigrants.”

Yes, and we live in a country, a political entity, in the year 2010 that has LAWS.

Follow them or face the consequences.

Unfortunately, the consequences will only happen when our government decides to enforce them, which hasn’t been “any time soon.”

Tamara Hamlin

June 24th, 2010
11:24 am

The vast majority of illegal aliens currently in the Georgia University System came to this country as minors. They did not choose to come here, they were brought, some of them still in diapers. They do not know the schooling system of their native countries, and they don’t have the means to relocate to study in their native countries. It is very mean spirited of us Georgians to punish these young people and not allow them to prepare for their futures. I’d like to ask the Board of Regents who is going to benefit from a creating a system where one segment of society is barred from higher education. I don’t think anyone will benefit. Let them learn and contribute to Georgia and the country as educated folks, not as an uneducated underclass.

Sethe

June 24th, 2010
8:28 pm

It is unfortunate that these children were brought “against their will”; however, they are still not legal citizens.

Showing leniency and allowing them to become citizens would set a bad precedent. It would encourage more people to enter our country illegally with the hopes that their children (and maybe themselves) could also gain this amnesty.

No, we need to draw a line in the sand.

It’s time someone stood up to the massive influx of noncitizens who are benefiting from our country in the most egregious way possible. Soon, citizens will have fewer rights/access to public services than these noncitizens.

It really is a shame that some people would rather focus on helping this “disadvantaged” group of people instead of working on their own country first.

Granny Godzilla

July 6th, 2010
7:50 am

Oh please stop with the Black Panther falsehood!

Fox News, the Black Panthers, and the same old pattern