illegal immigration

The Department of Education has sent a “fact sheet” to schools throughout the country which “highlights the children’s right to attend public school.”

The influx of illegal immigrant children has led some state officials to ponder the additional costs their schools will face. The Hill reports:

“There are many consequences of the federal government’s failure to secure the border and the fiscal impact of educating unaccompanied alien children is certainly one of them,” said Travis Considine, a spokesman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Michael Zola, head of federal advocacy for the school board association, said many questions remain about the placement of the children and how long they will stay.

“A lot of folks at the local level want to know with a better sense of granularity what those actual numbers are for planning purposes,” he said.

The civil rights divisions of the departments of Justice and Education sent a letter in May warning districts to avoid enrollment practices that could “chill or discourage” children from signing up for school due to their perceived immigration status.

“These practices contravene Federal law,” the May 8 letter stated.

The letter pointed out that having children provide Social Security numbers or race and ethnicity data when enrolling must be only voluntary. It also said the age of the children could be proven using foreign records.

Read the full story here.

h/t to Instapundit.

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Campus Reform reports:

Susan Su, the founder and President of Tri-Valley University, was convicted late last month of running a multimillion dollar “visa mill,” which illegally provided immigration status to over 1,000 foreign students.

In all, the 43-year old Su was convicted on 31 counts, including conspiracy to commit visa fraud, money laundering, and alien harboring.

A federal grand jury indicted Su in November 2011 on charges that she operated a phony, unaccredited university with the intent of fleecing millions of dollars from foreign nationals, who were looking to receive student visas in exchange for paying tuition…

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The Cornell Daily Sun reports that a student advocacy group has been given $5,000 from the university to dole out to undocumented students.

The scholarships are meant to help, in some small way, offset the nearly $60,000 annual tuition at the university, the newspaper reports.

With the cost of attending Cornell’s endowed colleges approaching $60,000 a year, the DREAM Team, a student organization, is awarding $5,000 in scholarships to the University’s undocumented students — an act it hopes will alleviate the financial burden students ineligible for federal aid often face.

The organization was able to fund the scholarships through the Perkins Prize, an award it received from the University in April for its advocacy on behalf of undocumented students.

Conservatives have opposed reforms that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, arguing that doing so would unfairly burden taxpayers and exacerbate illegal immigration. But across some college campuses, administrators, including President David Skorton, have urged Congress to support undocumented students for the sake of keeping their talent in the U.S.

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A new law that took effect Jan. 1 in California allows students who are not in the country legally access to a variety of state-funded college tuition financial aid.

Assistance such as community college fee waivers, Cal Grants and similar aid is now open to non-legal residents, with awards of up to $12,200 a year for low- and middle-income students.

To be eligible for the money, students must graduate from a California high school after attending for at least three years, and meet financial and academic standards.

Supporters of the law downplay its financial significance in this cash-strapped state, citing widely circulated statistics that less than 1 percent of students in the California State University, University of California and community college systems are undocumented. They also insist that the new law, part of the California Dream Act, won’t eat into the pool of college aid given annually to legal citizens.

However the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analysis Office reports that the law will likely cost Californians $65 million a year by 2016. Critics say the law rewards breaking the rules and is an insult to foreign students who enter the country legally.

“We should reward those who respect our process instead of creating new incentives for those who don’t,” Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly said in a statement to the Riverside-based Press-Enterprise, which reported that about 20,000 people – less than one percent of college students – are expected to apply for the state-funded Cal Grants.

But Donnelly told the newspaper the law will take away money from students who are U.S. citizens, and that it goes against the wishes of California voters, citing a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll which found 55 percent of voters opposed the law and 40 percent supported it.

The poll also showed a huge ethnic divide, with 79 percent of Latinos supporting the law, compared with 30 percent of white supporters, the Press-Enterprise notes.

The latest law granting undocumented students Cal Grants and similar aid joins a growing number of perks for illegal immigrants in California. They are already eligible for reduced in-state tuition at campuses statewide, as state law offers tuition breaks to any student who has attended a California high school for three years, regardless of their immigration status.

What’s more, as of Jan. 1, 2012, they were granted access to private college scholarships funneled through public universities.

State immigration advocates such as Luz Gallegos argue that children should not be punished for the sins of their parents.

“There’s so much potential for them,” she told the Press-Enterprise. “It’s not their fault their parents brought them here undocumented.”

Others see it differently.

Kristen Williamson, a spokeswoman for Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the Los Angeles Times the law is “a reckless use of taxpayer money.” And Republican Assemblyman Curt Hagman told the newspaper it “absolutely sends the wrong message. It says if you violate the law, it’s OK.”

Fix contributor Nicole Swinford is a student at Chapman University.

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America is becoming “browner, more Asian, and gayer,” and now more than ever is the time to lobby hard for massive immigration reform, the so-called most famous illegal person in America told a group of CU Boulder students during a recent guest appearance.

Jose Antonio Vargas, a prominent journalist who recently outed himself in high-profile national magazines as an undocumented worker, said in his mid-December speech at the campus that “as immigration reform heats up, we will need … voices. We need American citizens coming out and speaking up.”

In a speech that aimed to justify and almost glamorize illegal immigration, Vargas noted “the great thing is there are so many undocumented young people” leading the charge for immigration reform. He called on CU Boulder students to join that cause.

“The ball is in your court,” he said, telling students to contact lawmakers and demand immigration reform.

Vargas noted the “country is getting browner, more Asian, and gayer,” and conservatives and Republicans must accept that. He said the tide is in the favor of those who seek to open the borders, especially after the November election.

“Every thirty seconds a Latino turns eighteen, it becomes a vote,” he said. “President Obama would not have won if it wasn’t for the Latino vote. Period. If it wasn’t for Latinos in Colorado, Florida, and Virginia, it would have been over. Mitt Romney would have won. President Obama will make sure that immigration reform happens in the future.”

Asked how to handle those who see the issue differently, Vargas said “conservative, white Americans have a language of their own and are not on the train and don’t fit in the equation.”

His advice?

“Convince them that they are not the majority and we are not trying to take your slice of the pie,” he said. “I’m trying to grow it.”

Vargas said he plans to undertake a documentary on “whiteness” after he is finished with a project on illegal immigration, expected this spring.

Meanwhile, he has made several speeches across America over the last several months at college campuses and other locations as founder of “Define American,” which seeks to put immigration reform on the national radar.

Vargas’ speech at CU Boulder also touched on his fairly recent decision to come out as someone who lives and works in the country illegally.

Part of Vargas’ inspiration to give speeches, he said, came from being “fascinated by the lack of information and animosity” over illegal immigration.

According to Vargas, America was created by illegal immigrants: “About twelve million undocumented white people from Europe crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Ellis Island.”

On a personal note, Vargas said he arrived in the country through his grandfather, who lived in the Philippines, and gave him a social security and green card. As a teenager, when Vargas sought his driver’s license, the DMV told him that his green card was fake and not to come back, he said.

Confused, Vargas told his grandfather, who replied: “You’re not supposed to be here.” And so began Vargas’ dilemma of being in America without papers and trying not to get caught.

Vargas said he could not obtain citizenship by marrying a U.S. citizen because he is gay, so he worked many under-the-table jobs to get an income and to pursue a journalism career. To obtain a driver’s license and land a legitimate job, Vargas said he had some “allies” who wrote letters to the DMV confirming his residency.

Vargas said when he was with The Washington Post he paid Social Security taxes, and added “undocumented people paid $168 million in taxes in Colorado (last year).”

Eventually, Vargas said, he was tired of “running” and wanted to write about “why he had not been deported” to draw attention to illegal immigration.

Fix contributor Aslinn Scott is a student at the University of Colorado Boulder.

IMAGE: Phil of Photos/Flickr

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La Raza Unida founder Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez taped an address posted on YouTube, directed at fellow Latino activists, in which he notes: “The question remains, what are we going to do tomorrow? Mañana is today. … If we are the future, we have potential power, when are we going to realize it? When are we going to paint the White House brown?” Watch the video:

Latino professors and activists converged in El Paso last week to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Raza Unida Party National Convention, originally held over Labor Day weekend in 1972. Gutierrez’s remarks served as a farewell to attendees.

Last week’s commemoration was hosted in part at the University of Texas, El Paso, where Latino educators and movers-and-shakers in the La Raza movement brainstormed over how to advance their political agenda now and in the future. Organizers say the four-day event was attended by more than 500 people, including students, educators, activists, artists and librarians.

One participant was Armando Navarro, a professor and political scientist at the University of California, Riverside. He believes recent laws to stem the tide of illegal immigration, as well as the rise of grassroots civilian border patrol movements, are akin to “nativist attacks on Mexicanos and Latinos … and hate crimes,” according to a news release from UC Riverside:

“Navarro … contends that: neither political party represents Latinos politically; neither party offers solutions to ending an economic crisis that has impoverished many and limited access to economic progress; both parties are complicit in “nativist attacks on Mexicanos and Latinos,” such as anti-immigrant legislation passed by several states and an increase in the number of militias, hate groups and hate crimes; and a lack of leadership hinders efforts to create a powerful political movement among the nation’s largest racial or ethnic group.”

Navarro presented a paper at the event, “Prospects for reviving (Raza Unida Party) or for creating a new partido,” funding for which was provided by the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, based at UC Riverside.

Meanwhile, the El Paso Times reports that the Latino activists at the commemoration bemoaned the rise of critical assessments of ethnic studies classes and bilingual education:

“The older, gray-haired Chicano activists said the biggest problems are a lack of political activism and organization and the need for more people to become involved. In recent years, some of the advances of the Chicano Movement, such as ethnic studies classes and bilingual education, have come under fire.

“We need to divorce ourselves from the two-party system,” activist Hermán Baca said. “There is no other alternative. In order to do that, we need to understand. We need to educate. We need to politicize. And we need to organize our people. The biggest problem we have is (the lack of political and social conscience to develop power).”

According to a University of California report, Baca served as a major activist for decades, working “closely with other leading figures of the Chicano movement, including César Chávez … to address immigration, civil and political rights, educational opportunities and other issues.”

Baca’s activist materials, which he gathered and stored, have become a digital collection used by UC students in many disciplines, including history, anthropology and ethnic studies.

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