Friday, September 25, 2020

Immigrant Students Miss Chance at College Education

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Despite the fact that they may have been in the United States for most of their lives, immigrant high school students often forgo their dreams of pursuing higher education because they do not qualify for in-state tuition or financial aid. But, there are those who are trying to make a difference in the lives of these students.

Judah Larkin, a Rhode Island high school teacher, has dedicated his efforts to helping his immigrant students navigate a complicated bureaucracy in hopes that they can become qualified for in-state tuition.

“One of my students has been here since she was 1 year old, but she can’t afford to pay the out-of-state rate to a university in a place she’s grown up in,” Mr. Lakin said. “Her mother has a work permit and pays taxes here, yet her daughter is essentially denied access to higher education.”

With twenty-two percent of the state’s students coming from immigrant families, this help is much needed. Carl Kruger, a lawyer at the International Institute of Rhode Island, an organization that assists immigrants, was quoted saying that often times “people can qualify as being here legally but don’t know how to approach the process.”

Grace Diaz, a Rhode Island state legislator, has introduced legislation to make it possible for students who have lived in the state for over three years to qualify for in-state tuition. President of the University of Rhode Island, Robert Coarothers, often testifies in support of her legislation saying “it does no good to keep people who live here from an education by which they could make contributions back to the state.”

Not everyone agrees on this issue.  For example, the organization Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement is strongly opposed to the idea believing that granting illegal immigrants in-state tuition places the burden on the U.S. tax payer. The issue of in-state versus out-of-state tuition for illegal immigrants is occurring nation-wide, with only 10 states having passed legislation allowing in-state tuition for these students. Even with the passage of the much touted federal “Dream Act” there is no guarantee that these students will in fact, be able to realize their dreams of a college education.

New York Times