By Joe Guzzardi
August 30, 2011
In the endless immigration debate, there’s one constant. Advocates insist that it’s wrong to punish young adults brought to the United States before they reached the age of reason. Many argue that since these youngsters are America’s future doctors, lawyers and academics, a DREAM Act amnesty should be passed.
In California, as you might expect, since it has the nation’s highest concentration of illegal immigrants, the circumstances are slightly different—meaning they’re worse. California has had a DREAM Act since 2001. Illegal aliens have attended California’s universities and colleges at low instate tuition rates for a decade. But, as always, illegal immigrants and their lobby want more. Governor Jerry Brown may be prepared to give it to them.
Last week, the California Senate Appropriations Committee passed AB 131 which would allow alien students to qualify for public financial aid at state schools and to access up to $40 million in taxpayer funded Cal Grants. With California losing its fight to rein in the multi-billion dollar budget deficit and with public school teachers getting pink slips, it’s scandalous that Brown would consider favorable tuition rates for illegal immigrants. But remember, we’re talking about California where the Hispanic Caucus dominates the legislature and regular, working citizens are less influential than the multiple organizations that push for more Hispanic entitlements.
Despite the millions of laudatory words published about the California DREAM Act, the most important question has never been asked. Since employers can’t legally hire illegal immigrants, what do those would-be professionals do with their university degrees? After all is said and done, the graduates are still illegal aliens.
No doubt the students anticipate an amnesty. But that’s wishful thinking. Congresses and White Houses controlled by both Democrats and Republicans have soundly and consistently defeated amnesty for years. What’s on the immediate horizon, mandatory E-Verify and in 2012 a Republican Senate majority, spells bad news for aliens and their supporters.
I’ve always wondered what happens to illegal immigrant college graduates. Recently, I found out. The New Journal, Yale University’s student publication, wrote about Teresa Serrano’s travails. According to author Liane Membis, Serrano’s parents brought her at an early age to the United States from Honduras. She did well in school and, claiming to be an “international student,” applied to Yale.
Although Serrano lied about everything except her high school grades and her home address, Yale accepted her. Said a Yale spokesman, “a student’s legal status” doesn’t enter into its acceptance process.
Maybe it should. During her undergraduate years, Serrano couldn’t take advantage of Yale’s international travel opportunities because she can’t get a passport. Because she’s afraid of airport security, Serrano couldn’t travel back to Texas to visit her parents. Since Serrano has no driver’s license, her mobility is limited.
Ironically, now that Serrano has her Yale diploma, she’s no better off financially than the illegal immigrant who crossed the border yesterday. Serrano is working at fast food restaurants and laundromats.
The New Journal presented Serrano’s story sympathetically and used her example as a plea for comprehensive immigration reform. However Membis missed a big point: Why should Yale have given one of its few freshman slots to an illegal immigrant who can’t capitalize on her education? And why doesn’t Serrano return to her native Honduras where her Yale credentials would put her at top of any employer’s candidate list? I’ve been to Honduras. Believe me; it’s nicer than New Haven.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns, mostly about immigration and related social issues, since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at Joe[email protected]