The AJC has a good story today on both sides of the debate over whether a 22-year-old Mexican born student allegedly in this country illegally since she was 10 should be allowed to finish her college education at Kennesaw State University The topic has generated hundreds of comments on earlier Get Schooled blogs, and those comments reflect a sharp divide among Americans on how to respond to illegal immigrants and on how many educational opportunities, if any, should be afforded to their children.
The case in question involves KSU student Jessica Colotl who was arrested on a minor traffic charge on the campus. The arrest led to her booking in the Cobb County jail, which has an agreement with federal officials to flag illegal immigrants for deportation. She is supposed to surrender to authorities today and hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Friday to discuss her situation.
Here are excerpts from both sides:
Many argue that public higher education, including in-state tuition, should be open to all who have the smarts, whether they are here legally or not. It’s better for the economy, they say.
“Disallowing competent students from completing college hurts the nation’s economic interest,” said Pedro Portes, executive director of the Center for Latino Achievement and Success in Education at the University of Georgia’s College of Education. “Many of them are bilingual, and that’s an asset. Many of them are highly motivated to perform well in a global economy.”
“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot because these children of immigrants, if given the opportunity, will not only fight in our military but perform well in our industry,” Portes said.
But Steven Camarota, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which supports vigorous enforcement of immigrations laws, said cases like Colotl’s are a reminder “that the longer you don’t enforce your immigration laws, the more difficult it is to do so.”
“It’s clear that the proponents of an amnesty/legalization use these kids as kind of a political prop,” he said. “But the fact is that if they wanted to have a very narrowly focused amnesty just for these kids, they probably could. But that’s not what they want. They want to use the kids as media-genic face for something much much larger — an amnesty for the 11 million illegal immigrants here.”
D.A. King of Marietta, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, said he is against legislation such as the Dream Act because it only encourages more illegal immigration. The idea behind the Dream Act is to grant a path to legal residence for students like Colotl who were brought here illegally as minors, graduated from high school, have good moral character and attend college or serve honorably in the military.
“I am very confused why we are spending so much time and money violating the law and educating someone who will not be eligible to work in the U.S. upon graduation,” King said. “I find it abhorrent that we would give a classroom seat to an illegal alien, when there are real, legal immigrants and U.S. citizens who want that seat.”