Column: Illegal immigrants should not be rewarded for ignoring laws

By Giovanni Osorio

Eric Balderas, an illegal immigrant studying at Harvard University, faced deportation one year ago. University of Texas at Brownsville alumnus José Arturo Guerra faced deportation last month while in his last year of school. In both cases, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided not to pursue deportation.

Rather than allowing ICE to selectively prosecute undocumented students, it’s time for the United States to implement legislation to resolve the country’s problem with illegal immigration and higher education.

The Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, which has been reintroduced to Congress after failing to pass in December, is not the answer. The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to certain qualified young undocumented individuals toward legal residency, and potentially citizenship, by either enlisting in the military or going to college.

Legislation like the DREAM Act encourages illegal immigration. Parents bring their children to the United States with the intention of taking advantage of the rights given to the country’s citizens and legal residents. Provisions provided by bills like the DREAM Act reward people for not following the law. Rewards aren’t usually given to those who choose to ignore laws.

An increase in illegal immigration could occur after citizens of other countries see that illegal aliens are given privileges.

Currently, 12 states, including California, allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition. In terms of aiding those students in college, this is as far as the government should go. Undocumented students should not receive state and federal aid.

According to USC’s financial aid website, international students at USC receive aid only through merit scholarships. If international students who go through legal processes to receive a student visa cannot receive federal aid, then certainly neither should people who do not go through legal channels.

Still, to extend aid to undocumented immigrant students, AB 131 has been introduced to the California Senate Education Committee. If passed, it would allow those students to become eligible for state financial aid, such as Cal Grants and University of California grants.

Like parents of other college students, the parents of undocumented immigrant students should assume the responsibility of getting their children through college. Illegal immigrant parents knew it would not be easy to live in another country without going through legal means. These are the consequences of those actions.

Even if the student graduates before being deported, he or she will face challenges in obtaining employment. They would be in a worse position than a graduated international student. Illegal immigration must stop being encouraged. Deportation needs to begin. But deporting top students, such as Balderas, might mean losing students who could benefit the United States. To solve this, illegal immigrant students could be allowed to apply for a student visa without having first to go back to his or her country of citizenship. They would be granted the same status as other international students and receive the same benefits.

These students are suffering because of the actions of their parents. But the DREAM Act, and legislation like it, is not the solution to the effects of illegal immigration on students. They should not receive state and federal aid unless it is also given to international students. They should not be rewarded for laws broken when others abide by the law. Thus, the best solution is for international students to be granted student visas.

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