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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Illegal immigrant students deserve an education too

    Educating children should be exempt from politics. The Arizona Republic recently published a story about three boys who came to the United States illegally through their families’ efforts.

    Gerson Gonzalez, Alejandro Sau and Jonathan Labrada told their story— at the insistence of their parents — about coming illegally into the United States, assimilating into high school and learning a new language. They lived with different members of their families, some that they had never met before, just to be a part of the American education system.

    Once SB1070 took effect however, families had to separate, and parents chose to leave their children in Arizona to continue school, according to Nina Rabin, a UA law professor.

    These children are left to fend for themselves, and act as their own monitor for homework, attendance and grades. They shouldn’t have to worry about being deported or arrested for being in the state illegally. But in the beginning months of SB1070, many families were torn apart and these students feared being arrested.
    Then Robert N. Krentz Jr., a rancher on the Arizona-Mexico border was killed.

    “That changed things,” Gonzalez said in The Arizona Republic article. “I felt like people were looking at me differently. I didn’t kill that man. I have never hurt anybody.”

    Those who are living in the United States illegally for employment or education, are not the same as those who are trying to smuggle drugs or weapons across the border. Certainly, those who were brought here and live here and do so without committing crimes are not the same as those who killed that rancher.

    School administrators look the other way when it comes to a student’s immigration status, because they believe every child in their district has a right to an education, The Republic said.

    Unfortunately, there isn’t much help for them after they graduate. For Gonzalez, as he waited to walk across the stage at graduation, he realized that all that would really matter now was his legal status.

    Even though he was bilingual, graduated with above a 3.0 grade point average and had never been arrested, his dreams of going to college looked dismal.

    In a rare happy ending for these stories, Gonzalez got a scholarship to attend Grand Canyon University where he plans on majoring in biology before going to medical school.

    However, most immigrant students won’t get that chance. The DREAM Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who graduate high school and attend college or serve two years in the U.S. military, states on its website that “over three million students graduate from U.S. high schools every year” and that “a group of approximately 65,000 youth do not get this opportunity; they are smeared with an inherited title, an illegal immigrant.”

    Children should not be punished for the actions of their parents, and if they spend their lives being educated in the United States, they should be welcome to stay.

    While the federal government has yet to pass the DREAM Act, California and Illinois have passed state-level solutions. Arizona should be next state to embrace this.

    _— Michelle A. Monroe is a journalism senior. She can be reached at
    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu._

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