An undocumented student can be described as a student who moved in the U.S. without proper documentation. A person can also be considered an undocumented student if he or she entered the U.S. legitimately but dishonored the terms of his or her status hence staying without authorization (”An Overview of College-bound Undocumented Students”). Different critics have voiced various views on whether to allow the undocumented students to continue pursuing their studies in the American colleges. Undocumented students in the U.S. are usually experiencing a wide range of difficulties when it comes to transitioning from high school to college (O’Leary). A recent statics has shown that the majority of undocumented students lack an opportunity to proceed with college education after high school. Approximately 5 to 10% are the few lucky persons that usually get an opportunity to enroll and continue with their college studies (O’Leary). The primary reasons for undocumented students to finish their college education involves state and federal policies, stigmatization and fear, unaffordable college costs, and lack of necessary incentives and support (O’Leary). As much as these are the keystone issues for their limited access to college education, the undocumented students should be supported and allowed to obtain the college education. This paper focuses on the reasons why undocumented students should be welcomed by the U.S. colleges and the consequence this move will have on these students. The paper also contains recommendations for improvement of the present situation.
REASONS WHY COLLEGES SHOULD WELCOME UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS
According to the statistical data it is clear that undocumented students have lived in the U.S. for a reasonably long time. For instance, a recent survey has shown that the undergraduates under analysis have lived in the United States for approximately 14 years (Kohli). This fact shows that the majority of undocumented students live in the U.S. most of their lives. It also acts as a proof that the majority of these students have attained their fundamental education and high school education in the U.S. It could be argued that after an individual spends a reasonable time in certain place, he or she should acquire the education there. Therefore, the issue of deportation becomes futile, because one will have to adapt to a new educational system. According to Kohli, it is due to the realization of this fact that the U.S. President Barrack Obama declared a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) in 2012. The objective of this program was to protect the undocumented teenagers from banishment for a limited period of time (Kohli). Therefore, refusal to accept these people for the college education on the basis of their legality can be declared pointless.
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In addition to this, the U.S. is the only country which is known for the majority of undocumented students living and studying there. Having born and brought up in the U.S. and even having embraced English as their native language, they still have to face technicalities in pursuit of their higher education. This situation is discourteous. The undocumented students with outstanding academic qualifications from high school waste their possibilities whereas their potential could serve significantly for the development of future generations. This aspect if not well reconsidered will make the U.S. suffer from reduced number of intellectuals despite high number of tertiary level institutions.
If critically analyzed, undocumented youths with high academic performance usually pose unique talents that can be nurtured for the improvement and development of the U.S. (Kohli). For instance, in her article, Kohli has showcased a productive 19-year-old student who emigrated from Mexico to California as a child. Through the assistance of the undocumented student program, this student received an opportunity to attain education at the University of California where she is currently studying as a sophomore. However, at the institution she encounters a number of challenges including paying college fee. Looking critically at frustrations that the analyzed students face at college for being undocumented, it can be argued that despite her talent she should be supported to achieve the best at the University, because eventually her abilities will be beneficial to the U.S.
The case of this student serves as a representation of a wide range of problems that undocumented students face before receiving college education. For example, in most private and public institutions of higher learning, undocumented students are usually considered international students (”An Overview of College-bound Undocumented Students”). Their financial position plays a significant role in their admission to private colleges hence resulting in high competition during admission for the able and unable. Private college fee in the U.S. accounts for approximately $80,000 to $200,000 for four academic years (”An Overview of College-bound Undocumented Students”). A majority of the undocumented students who cannot pay these prices are usually left with no option other than staying at home. Undocumented students are also unentitled to financial scholarships and federal financial grants (Kohli). This policy has deprived many qualified and knowledgeable undocumented students of a chance to acquire collegiate training that is vital to building the nation (An Overview of College-bound Undocumented Students”). It could be argued that the U.S. colleges should train and tap the talents that might be of value for the future of the nation (Groseclose).
HIV/AIDS is one of the escalating menaces in the contemporary society that has been accompanied by stigmatization in different communities. It is a global concern which means that every nation has an obligation to annihilate it. It has been argued that some of undocumented immigrants come to the U.S. in pursuit of HIV/AIDS education and some resources to handle this issue (O’Leary). O’Leary also claims that the immigrants move from their places of origin to escape from stigmatization and discrimination related to the disease. Therefore, undocumented students of this kind should not be denied accessing these services. Perhaps, the knowledge they acquire in the U.S. colleges can be beneficial when they return to their homelands. This education will enable them to participate effectively in combating HIV/AIDS menace hence resulting in its reduction. Therefore, U.S. colleges should not disregard those students in pursuit of knowledge, as this experience would be significant in their homelands. It would be unfair to deprive people of this knowledge and let them perish while the U.S. is in a position to help. In fact, it will only show the unwillingness of the U.S. to participate in the efforts to reduce HIV/AIDS which is a global distress.
According to another investigation done on the productivity of the college eligible undocumented students, it has been discovered that these students demonstrate excellent educational achievements. Their leadership contribution and civic commitment arrangements have been found to be higher than that of their U.S. legible-citizens colleagues (Groseclose 33). The report acknowledged that more than 95% participated in extracurricular events and more than 90% took part in voluntary organizations (Groseclose 33). In the co-curricular activities, it has been found that 76% of the undocumented students assumed leadership positions such as club president. The report has also showed that most of the undocumented students exhibited charismatic characteristics such as optimism, psychological resilience, and perseverance in desperate situations (Groseclose 33). For example, despite having a wide range of activities at their respective homes such as taking care of their siblings, most of the students could still allow time for volunteer and co-curricular activities.
Nonetheless, despite their glistening personality in the field of academics and volunteer activities and leadership, undocumented students still are unsupported to resume their university education. It is the aspiration of many of the undocumented students to continue studying at the higher educational level. More than 90% of the students express their wish to accomplish Master’s or PHD degree (Groseclose 33). These dreams are always shattered by denial of the opportunity to continue their studies after school. Therefore, parents are also demoralized from aspirations to pursue a better future for their children in the U.S.
The Supreme Court of the federal government allowed the undocumented students to be recognized as students but according to immigration policy, they are not recognized as the U.S. citizens. This issue suggests that due to lack of guarantees as the U.S. citizens and blocked admission to higher learning facilities, the American society loses significant scholar and civic endowments. Therefore, this situation makes the U.S. lose its dignity among its allies on the ground that they are practicing discriminative policy. Their system only serves a selected part of the population neglecting the larger part that could be as advantageous as the preferred one (Groseclose).
The U.S. federal government should also consider undocumented students for higher learning capacity because they are taxpayers as well as the rest of the population. Alienating them as undocumented immigrants implies that they do not have any affiliation to the country despite their commitment to the prosperity of the U.S. In addition, America will not lose anything by allowing them to study and pursue their dreams. As long as they have adequate resources this would facilitate the enrollment of these students. Everything else will run efficiently because undocumented students possess tenacious optimism that would not subject the nation to adverse economic constraints (Perez).
EFFECTS OF WELCOMING THE UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS IN THE U.S. COLLEGES
Tolerating access to higher education for the undocumented students is vital because the conduits to the authorization of immigration reforms are meticulously associated with educational acquisition. The immigration bills that were proposed, e.g. the Modernization Immigration Act and the Border Security and Economic Opportunity, needed legalization of those undocumented immigrants who have attained at least two years of collegiate education (Perez). Therefore, allowing undocumented students to achieve higher education will give them opportunities to express their freedom (Perez).
On the other hand, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act advocates for provisional eternal residence for the teenage migrants (Perez). It requires that the immigrants should attain at least four-year higher education. Allowing undocumented students to acquire this training will be paramount to confirm that the greater percentage of these students qualify to contribute to the forthcoming immigration reform (Perez).
It has been pointed out that fear of revealing legal status is common among the undocumented students even when they are allowed to do so (Perez). This aspect is due to the unsupportive college environment that subjects them to suffer from inferiority complex. Lack of legal status usually keeps them depressed for the offered services. Removing the barriers to access to higher education will lead to the reduction of such issues (Kim and Diaz). Therefore, undocumented students who only recognize the U.S. as their country will even work harder for the prosperity of their nation.
Most of the undocumented students come from poverty stricken families. Raising the required fee to acquire university education is almost impossible to the majority. If they are given equal opportunities to obtain higher education, they will have better chances to get professional jobs that would aid in poverty reduction among these individuals.
It is an obligation of the career counselors to guide the students in planning the next phase of their education while in high school. Perez reports that most of the undocumented students are usually unaware of their legal status in the U.S. until they complete their secondary education. Removing the barrier to attain higher education will ease a smooth transition of the undocumented students from high school to college.
In addition to this debate, some proponents have acknowledged that tuition policies propagate the significance of cultural assimilation (Groseclose 15). They argue that since undocumented students have lived in the U.S. for a long period, they are culturally assimilated. They have even deserted their national heritage because their abilities are measured by their proficiency in English. Making higher education accessible to these students will enhance further assimilation and promote devotion to the U.S. status quo (Groseclose 15).
Providing access to collegiate education will also enhance patriotism among undocumented students. Having in mind that they can acquire higher education without troubles will make them rejuvenate their thwarted dreams of helping their families. Most of the undocumented immigrants are committed to voluntary service for the benefit of the U.S. (Groseclose 33). Allowing them to get post-secondary education will make them be more patriotic to their states and the entire nation.
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It is indeed clear that undocumented students face enormous difficulties in order to obtain higher education. The barriers put in place by federal policies and unwelcoming attitude by the campus administration have seen many undocumented students lose their stimulation. Executing some reforms to these policies at post-secondary, federal, and state level will give these students the ability to pursue higher education without much trouble. Therefore, the following recommendation will be helpful for championing this objective.
Accessibility to Federal Education Benefits Minus Interruption
The forthcoming immigration reforms should annihilate all the bans that inhibit undocumented students from accessing education benefits such as student loans, Pell grants, and work-study programs. These benefits constitute a greater percentage of the undocumented students’ abilities to fund their post-secondary education (Perez). The idea of lifting ban to access work study will make these students earn some pocket money while building the nation. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the stakeholders to ensure that all the students have equal chances to access this service.
Extension of Deferred Action for Parental Accountability to Parents of DACA Recipients
It is the responsibility of the administration to make certain that the parents of DACA beneficiaries are also allowed to access DAPA. This aspect will increase the number of undocumented students who qualify for work authorization and terminate the risk of banishment (Perez 29). It will also guarantee them financial security for acquiring higher education.
Welcoming Attitude at Institutions of Higher Learning
The stakeholders at colleges and universities should be urged to enhance conducive campus environment and address the requirements of undocumented students appropriately. These institutions should also partner with high schools to ensure that they provide the students with relevant information concerning the attainment of higher education. These colleges and universities should also organize individual offices that would be responsible for addressing financial issues of undocumented students (Perez).
The issue of acquisition of higher education for undocumented students is a crucial matter that the U.S. should address. This aspect has been neglected by various stakeholders of higher learning though it plays a significant role in the maintenance of intellectual population in the U.S. Therefore, the issue of embracing undocumented students to acquire quality training will be more advantageous to the U.S. regardless of their legal status. Additionally, alienating undocumented students from gaining higher learning training makes the state lose significant talents. As a result, the remarkable academic excellence of these students is left to go untapped for the betterment of the country. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the President Obama’s government and the future governments to reconsider the immigration reforms for the benefit of the U.S. and undocumented students.