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Illegal Immigrants

Equality in College Tuition

Contrary to popular opinion, illegal immigrants are living among us and aren’t planning on leaving. The United States is a place a lot of people believe "dreams come true" because of the many opportunities our country has to offer. One of which is the ability to attend a form of higher education, further than just high school. Illegal immigrants should receive the same rates of college tuition because everyone deserves to go to college and they pay taxes just like the average American. For illegal immigrants, higher education has been an out of reach dream and it has been for a long time.

Illegal immigrants have always had less opportunity than an American citizen—one being the chance at higher education. They can’t even begin to dream about college when some of them don’t even make the minimum wage. Townsend states that 26-year-old, Antonio Ramirez, never had any problem finding a job in the US because of merchants and/or business owners wanting cheap labor. Ramirez was never even asked for clarification that he had a green card, mostly because they didn’t care. According to Ramirez, “Even now, when I have a green card, they still pay me less than the minimum wage.” How is someone supposed to afford a college tuition, let alone the out-of-state rates, working a job, getting paid less than the minimum wage?

Everyone has the same dream: To become the best self that they can. Self-actualization is the peak in everyone’s hierarchy of needs. People can argue about immigration, but everyone can understand that it’s not a child’s fault. Children are followers, meaning they do as they’re told, even if that means “sneaking” into a country. They still deserve a chance at an education. Innocent children shouldn’t be held back from receiving the education they deserve just because they aren’t a part of this country. Sanchez states, Alabama now requires verification of the legal status of their students as they enroll in their public schools. Alabama will deny acceptance into elementary schools because of citizenship. These schools aren’t even college level, most are elementary schools. Innocent elementary-aged immigrants are being denied equal opportunity. Texas was one of the first states to recognize that the problem with illegal immigrants was not that they’re illegal, but that they’re not able to pursue anything past high school.

Diamond published that illegal immigrants are now being denied acceptance into Georgia universities because of their illegal status. Individuals are concerned that illegal immigrants are taking away the spots that should be available to US citizens only. Everyone is just scared of competition or worried that the US will finally realize that other countries are more advanced than us educationally. Diamond states that several illegal immigrants were denied acceptance into Georgia Tech simply because of their citizenship, regardless of the fact that all of them were more than qualified academically to enter. Several states such as Illinois and New York are granting in-state tuition costs as long as the immigrants are in the process of getting their legal status. These states are moving one step closer to immigration equality in education. The main issue US citizens are having as taxpayers is that they’re concerned that the money they pay into public education isn’t just strictly going towards citizens. Yet many people actually lack the knowledge that most illegal immigrants still pay many taxes.

Santa Rosa resident, undocumented, Guadalupe Rosel says, “I pay my taxes,” just like the rest of America. Many illegal immigrants can’t afford the high out-of-state tuition costs of many schools because they lack the ability to receive financial aid, even though they pay taxes. Rosel pays taxes in many forms similar to American citizens, such as the sales tax on items when he purchases things, income tax that he’s filed eight of the thirteen years he’s been here, as well as the many taxes taken from his paycheck. At Latino Income Tax, owner Sandra LaBoy, said that she has about 400 undocumented clients, and at Gil’s Business Tax Services, owner Gil Alcazar, said that he has around 1,000 undocumented clients who file for income taxes every year. Most people don’t believe that undocumented individuals have to pay taxes because they use a fake Social Security number to work, but even if this is the case, they still each have individual taxpayer identification numbers assigned to them. This means that regardless if they’re documented or not they still must pay their taxes. If an illegal immigrant works, they pay taxes. If they pay taxes, they’re paying into the nation’s Social Security fund and Medicaid. Hay states, according to the Social Security Administration, undocumented immigrants contributed on average $7 billion a year and New York Times recently reported that they supplied $1.5 billion a year to Medicaid. Even after these statistics many people will still believe that illegal immigrants shouldn’t receive anything, let along in-state tuition.

Many individuals believe the United States is for just that, United States citizens, no one else. Illegal immigration has been the debate for the past decade, but people don’t realize the diversity they bring into our businesses. In order for them to bring diversity into businesses, they need to get degrees. Obviously to get a degree they need to go to college, but once again many can’t afford it because of the out-of-state tuition they’re required to pay. Our colleges need diversity to succeed and Delbanco says, “declining college attainment rates apply disproportionately to minorities.”

Illegal immigrants dream of attending a higher form of education, but many will never see this in their future. We live in a diverse world full of hateful people and opinions. Regardless of the evidence given, many will still believe that illegal immigrants deserve next to nothing. Yet they do deserve to go to college because they do pay the same taxes as US citizens do. Not only do undocumented immigrants benefit from them attending college, but our diversity levels benefit too. Delbanco says, to “believe in the goal of achieving universal college education” because it is a dream that as a country we can conquer.