I am still on vacation and having a great time. I just checked my email and found out that a student of ours, who recently attended the Mosaic Journalism Camp at SJSU, had a piece published in the Merc about the difficulty undocumented students face due to their inability to get financial aid for college.
The readers' comments are predictably negative (i.e. calling for her and her "entire clan's" deportation and so forth). However, the chancellor of UC Berkeley agrees with Dulce :)
Here is her piece if you don't have an account at the Merc:
College door closed for talented undocumented students
By Dulce Martinez
Mayra, a 17-year-old who graduated recently from Downtown College Preparatory in San Jose with top grades, had hopes of going to a four-year university and becoming a lawyer. There is only one problem, which she can't fix.
She entered the United States illegally when she was 4 years old after her parents determined that if they stayed in Mexico they could all starve. As an undocumented immigrant, she's ineligible for government financial aid.
At her high school, Mayra was in Leadership, a program for students who help with campus activities. She was a member of the associated student body and MEChA, a Latino student group. She prepared and distributed sandwiches and water to day laborers in front of Orchard Supply Hardware while they waited for jobs.
Mayra thought that she was as American as anyone. She never thought that being an illegal immigrant was going to be a problem until she applied to a university. Then she found out that she qualified for almost no aid. That limited her college choices.
"I feel that it's not right that I worked so hard to improve my future and now I'm not sure what would become of my plans," said Mayra, a tall, brown-haired and brown-eyed girl from a poor Mexican village.
I know many teens who, like Mayra, had their dreams destroyed when the U.S. Senate turned down the latest immigration reform bill. They shattered the hopes not only of illegal immigrant students in San Jose but also, students living all over the country.
Another deserving undocumented immigrant student who worried about her future is Perla, a thin "jarocha," or native of the Mexican state of Veracruz.
Perla's parents smuggled her into America when she was 9. Also a 2007 Downtown College Prep graduate, she has all the qualities universities look for: She participated in student government, passed Advanced Placement classes and tutored struggling students. And yet when it came to applying to a university, she had all doors slammed in her face. "I feel betrayed by the country I call my home," Perla said.
When the Senate derailed the immigration bill, they punished innocent young people who had no input in their family's decision to enter this country illegally. Undocumented immigrant students in schools are not treated any differently than citizen students. They are always told that they can succeed, become lawyers, psychologists or teachers. But that's a lie if they are not able to attend a college because they don't qualify for government financial aid. I have met many students who have an unclear future waiting for them. Some decide that there is no point to working so hard and they start falling behind and start hanging out with gangs.
These undocumented immigrant students never rest because they are afraid that they might get deported at any second. It is not fair because they have worked really hard educating themselves, learning our country's history, speaking our language, contributing to their community, taking the hardest classes. They don't deserve to be treated so badly.
What happened to the American dream? For these students, the dream became a nightmare and now they have no choice but to remain here, stuck in the lowest ditch in our society because they can't go back to a country they no longer consider their own. All people are created equal, but did Congress think about that when it put the lives of thousands of undocumented students on hold?
Members of Congress should face the problem with their heads up high instead of running away and hiding. Is this what America wants, to destroy the hopes of so many bright and hard working young people who want to become productive citizens?