President Barack Obama recently claimed “we must fix this broken system and reform the immigration for purpose of making America great again.” It is estimated that there are approximately 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living within the United States that is consider to be about 3.5 percent population. Out of this, 65,000 of them constitute the student body who wish to get a postsecondary education past high school. However, these students face countless obstacles, problems, and hardships that deny them the chance to get quality education after they are done with high school. The challenges come amid the apprehension that in the present day, everything relies on the factor of going to college and getting higher education. It has dawned to many that to attain the American dream, one must go through the motion of getting a higher education to achieve the dream he or she has. However, that dream for some students is just a mere imagination of something they will never be able to attain the aspiration because of the tag that is given to them that makes the population be referred to as the undocumented students. In fact, in addition to dealing with the issue of staying in the shadow as minorities, poverty, family struggles and the stress of going to college can be unbearable for most students. Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face unequal opportunities and privileges to get a higher education from many years to come. From the review of the challenges that undocumented student’s face, it appears that there seems to be a huge disparity in the access of higher education programs for undocumented immigrants.
The primary cause of concern for the need to examine the relevance of the subject is based on the apprehension that a majority of undocumented students are unable to access higher education facilities. Statistics show that 65,000 of those who manage to graduate from high schools are limited in their capacity to participate in the American society. There is a huge state difference in the capacity that an undocumented person and a citizen has in the US. It is perceived that the primary dimensions of the challenges that these groups face are described in the context of the social, financial and legal barriers. Apparently, it has been identified that approximately 30 percent of the undocumented people in the United States live in poverty, implying that imposing tougher legal sanctions pertaining to access to education is catastrophic. The undocumented students and illegal immigrants are among those whose existence is underrepresented and who remain at the periphery in the provision of state-based benefits. State-based education aid has been a major challenge for the undocumented student across the years.
Access to financial aid for undocumented students has particularly been a significant challenge because each of the states tend to differ in the tuition rates, the enrollment criteria, and the providing of state-based financial aid for the undocumented students. It is reported that only 19 states are able to fund for the state tuition programs for the undocumented cases. However, in most cases, the immigrants would be required to cater for their own needs when they opt to attend the college and university education facilities. It is also reported that Illinois is the first and only state to create public scholarship initiatives that is primarily targeted for the undocumented students. It is thus recommended that other states should adopt the initiatives put in Illinois to encourage more enrollment of undocumented students in higher education programs. The implication is that there still exist major adversities in the provision that are aimed at enabling the undocumented students access quality education. For example, according to Eusebio and Mendoza, it is reported that the undocumented students are not eligible for the state benefits that comprise of federal financial aid. It implies that it is still a huge challenge for many immigrants who are in the US illegally because they are not entitled for grant, financial aid, government loans, and work study.
Regarding the cost, many respondents have since issued their justification on the reason in which they believe that the large majority of students who are classed as undocumented need to get an education. One line of thought considers that a majority of the undocumented students’ arrival to the US was when they were young and unable to make decisions on their own. According to Johnson, the idea in this case is that the parents were only trying to get a better living for the children but were unaware of the fact that they were outlawed. It is a new realization that the laws treat them as indefinite compliances to crimes that were committed when they were toddlers. It would thus be impractical to punish a kid for the decisions that their parents made when they were young.
Another point of contentions that has been raised to support the need for increasing the chances of education for undocumented is based on the fact that it will enable the federal government to save on cost of lost wages. By funding college students, it is the expectation of the government that it will be able to benefit from the graduates when they get employed and start remitting taxes. The role is comparable with that played by financial institutions that fund higher education in the hope that the students will pay in the end. However, the government is more likely to be detached in getting involved in the funding process when there is reduced potential and hope among the population. It is reported that 1.2 million students drop out of high school annually with over half of these constituting the minority populations. It is noted that the cost of lost wages arises from the fat that the minority group who drop out tends to earn less than their counterparts who have at least obtained a diploma it is plausible to think that the cost lost wages should be a huge concern for the government. In fact, further reports have indicated that in 2008 alone, the dropouts from 2008 alone amounted to costs as high as $319 billion that was unaccounted for due to lost wages. It therefore implies that by paying for a potential dropout, he government will have helped save on the expenses already incurred in educating the individual which is a boost to the economy.
Furthermore, contrary to the perception, it has been established that a large number of the undocumented college students and population in general are more likely to remain in the U.S. even if they do not receive post-secondary education. The challenge of the perceived “brain drain” that exists in that there is a fear of educating such groups it thus irrelevant because provided most of those communities settle in the United States, many do not consider leaving. It is important to remember that many of the undocumented students are foreigners and immigrants who have either fled their countries because of disaster of have inherently realized that better lifestyle that is better in the US. The outcome will be that they end up in the country but are not traceable from the realization that many tend not to have the intension of settling in the country. It is to the best interest of everyone when the government is mandated with the role of educating everyone and providing them with an access to higher education regardless of their national status. However, in the case of the undocumented students in the country illegally, it will be difficult to keep track of such people, hence justify the need for the government to opt against the deal. It is thus noted that when many people are educated, they will give back the returns for investment when they end up working in the use and contribute to the national revenue generation process.
In contrast, opponents have also argued against the idea and defended the government’s position by asserting that it is warranted to limit the opportunities for the undocumented students. While it is plausible to think that there is a need to provide the undocumented students with a platform for higher learning, there are various reasons that have stalled the progress of the initiative. The primary consideration is that there is a worry that allowing the undocumented students to pay for the in-state fees tuition rates would be disastrous considering the tight economic times not only being experienced in the United States but all over the world. The Federal Government is constantly facing the challenge of increasing expenditure in many areas of the economy and it would be difficult to ensure that all the sectors are met fully. In fact, it is apprehended that the possible motivating factor that there is increased demand to meet the need of the citizens. It is thought that such a move would involve taking away the opportunities from the U.S. citizen and the legal immigrants and create instability in the economy. It is thus the role of the federal government to ensure that policies are streamlined and are in line with the citizen objectives.
It is also thought that the move to grant the resident tuition fees that are applies to the citizens to the undocumented student is inherently illegal. By quoting Section 505 of IIRIRA the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) contained in section 401, it would be out of order to provide the undocumented students the resident tuition rates. It is stated that:
An alien who is not a qualified alien is not eligible for any Federal public benefit [including] any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States.
Opponents to the subject thus believe that it is justified because the undocumented cases are easily classed into the category of the aliens and should not get the opportunities that are for the citizens and legal immigrants.
The cost of granting the tuition rates for the access of higher education has also been subject to analysis, where it has become apparent that the tax dollars should be directed to other projects rather than support the undocumented students. In the setting of the national budget, priory is given to certain sector relative to other areas of the economy. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has particularly been at the forefront following its promoting that there should be a limit in the reference to state privileges. The body has thus been a major player in limiting the access to the publicly funded benefits such as postsecondary education, much to the disappointment of the vast student fraternity classed as the undocumented ones. The effect is an interesting turn of event especially considering that it had previously been acknowledged that there are challenges of cost relative to the national budget. The varying sources thus affirm that there are unclear stands on the cost subject because while it is said that the government is unable to cater for the increasing costs brought by undocumented students, there have been reports of excessive spending in the funding of the DACA program.
However, there have been concerns on why the system is flawed. The structuring of the system has also been a major point of contentions following the new realization that the high school counselors are unaware of the polices in place that prevents the undocumented immigrants in their bid to access high education. The counselors thus fail to inform the students on the manner in which the government perceives them and in the process it appears that they allow the students to waste time knowing there is not future for them. It is noted that the professionals who are mandated with the responsibility of preparing the young mind in their next stage of life is incapacitated and ignorant of the problem. It is noted that many of the undocumented immigrants only realize that there is a problem when they are in the last year of study in high school, when it is already too late. It is reported that while 71 percent of colleges and universities receive application for the undocumented students be enrolled, many are forced to decline because the counselor failed in informing the students on their fate. To overcome the problem, it is essential that the government creates a platform in the schools so that children are psychologically prepared of the system mode of operation and adjust by seeking alternatives.
Another challenge that has been noted is the realization that some undocumented students are still living in fear and are not willing to share information that could be used to help them gain access to higher education. For the refugee to be assisted, it is always important that the individual societies come out and register so that their numbers are established by the system and that they can be included in the budged. However, in a scenario when there are no records, determining the exact numbers that are in the US because many come into the country illegally. The effect is apprehended when it is possible to cover for the fact that are associated with the population and wen there is not data, it becomes a challenging endeavor. President Obama has since been accredited for initiating the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability to provide for work permits and relief deportation to the lawful permanent residents. The initiative has enabled the more access to facilities though there is an element of fear despite the support from the government. It has, however, been revealed that 66 percent of the program beneficiaries are still angry that their families are unable to quality for the relief. The lack of legal status has thus been a challenge because it significantly impacts on the capacity to access the available programs including pushing for better reforms that are aimed at enhancing the chances of accessing higher education.
It appears, however, that while it has been unanimously accepted that undocumented America are trailing in the access to education, it appears that they are favored in other segment of their lifestyle. A new reported has indicated that an illegal immigrant is getting higher figure in welfare benefits when compared to the American families. The finding was promoted by the influx of aliens across the US border which is suggested to be comparable to the mass immigration of the 1980s. Following the inquiry into the motivating factors for the alarming rate of immigrants entering the country, it was found that it is likely that the motivator was the fact that there is massive support from the government assistance. According to Vespa, illegal immigrants are receiving over $1200 in benefits annually that the American citizens. It is described that an illegal immigrant, a class for the undocumented, receive an average of $5592 annual benefits in the welfare advantages compared to the native American who received a meager $4431.