Recently issues and challenges faced by U.S.-raised undocumented Hispanics and others in California have been the subject of interest across the United States by advocates and law makers over the past year. A large percentage of these adolescents arrived as children, attended school here and have assimilated into American society with little or no knowledge of their countries of origin. They have attained legitimate undocumented immigration from the circumstances of their arrival with undocumented parents or adults.
The Urban Institute, a Washington based think-tank, estimates that from 50,000 to 65,000 of these young people graduate from high school each year after having resided in the U.S. for 5 years or longer. Nonetheless, under present law, they are treated the same as status-quo undocumented workers, unable to work legally and subject to deportation.
Sophomore Yuliana Huicochia (WEE-coe-CHAY-uh), an 18 year-old student from Phoenix College who moved to the U.S. years ago but now faces deportation charges because while on a science project to Buffalo, Huicochia and three team mates visited the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Immigration officials detained the group and notified them that she faced deportation charges.
In an interview with the New York Times Huicochia said, “I’m scared, I don’t know any other place. My whole family is here. This is where my education is, my dreams, my goals, I don’t know what to do anywhere else.”
The National Immigration Law Center reports that Congress is focused on the problems of these young people ensuring that they have a fair opportunity to attend college.
Bi-partisan legislation, the Student-Adjustment Act (H.R. 1684), in the House, and the soon to be reintroduced Dream Act in the Senate would address the issues. These Bills may grant greater latitude to what Federal law currently limits in section 505 of the Illegal Immigration and Responsibility Act of 1996. The law does not prohibit a state’s ability to offer higher education benefits, including in-state tuition rates for state colleges and universities, to residents without regard to immigration status. However, immigrants are forced to pay non-resident rates that are two to five times higher than the in-state rates, or pass up a college education.
Thousands of Middle Eastern men, women and children currently face deportation after voluntarily coming forth for a national security registration program designed to ferret out terrorists.Ahmad Amin said, “I just wanted to graduate from high school, my dream is to be over.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that in February Ahmad and Hassan Amin went to the immigration office in San Jose to comply with the new government regulation (Patriot Act) that requires all men and boys on temporary visas from certain Middle Eastern, Arab and Asian countries to register.
Immigration officials detained both brothers.
Hassan Amin was detained overnight at the Yuba County Jail. Ahmed Amin, who was then 17 years old, was released to his mother. It cost the family $4,000 to get Hassan bonded out of jail. Legal fees to fight extradition will cost thousands more.
New law effective as of January 1, 2002 does allow students who have attended California high schools to attend public colleges and universities, regardless of immigrant status if the following requirements are satisfied: 1) Attend high school in California for three or more years; 2) Graduate from a California high school or pass the GED; and 3) File an affidavit with the college or university stating that they have applied for a lawful immigration status or will apply as soon as they are eligible to do so.