What should happen to college kids who are illegal immigrants?
In recent weeks, debate has heated up around the issue of immigration–from proposed legislation in Arizona to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants who are born on U.S. soil, to a small Nebraska town voting to approve a ban on hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants, to well-reasoned ideas about how to help recent immigrants integrate into American society. And, of course, there is the partisan rancor over comprehensive immigration reform, as well as over Arizona’s new law concerning illegal immigration.
But what I find most interesting is the issue of students who are illegal immigrants. Recent stories in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and Boston Globe have focused on this group of children–brought to the United States by their parents, successfully integrating into American society, in part through attending grade school and/or high school here, and preparing for, attending, or graduating from college.
Below is an interview with Eric Balderas, the nearly-deported Harvard student who was profiled in the Boston Globe story mentioned above:
So, what should be done about children who are here illegally but want to take advantage of America’s higher education system? Call me simplistic, but I don’t think you can blame–or punish–kids for their parents’ actions. Imagine that an eight-year-old child is taken by his parents across the border illegally, a thousand miles away from the place where he grew up, and then spends the next ten years of his life living in North Carolina. He attends school, learns English, makes friends, and eventually graduates near the top of his high school class. Is it fair to prevent him from attending the country’s colleges and universities, or to withhold financial aid from that student? We need talented, driven people to become leaders and innovators in our country, and we cannot afford to turn away young people who have those qualities just because their parents made an illegal decision.