Undocumented Students Deserve College Education - April 20, 2004
By your presence, you continue to raise our nation’s awareness about the injustice undocumented immigrant students face to furthering their education and reaching their full potential. Many of these students, as you know, are honor students who have been recognized for high academic achievement.
Tragically, each year, through no fault of their own, thousands of undocumented youth, raised and educated in this country, are unable to pursue a higher education because of their immigration status which, under current federal law, requires them to pay out-of-state tuition, rather than the less expensive in-state tuition. The exorbitant out- of- state tuition essentially bars most of these qualified youth from attending college.
As a result, these children lose an educational opportunity to develop their talents and, in turn, our country loses the benefits of their potential contributions as educated professionals and taxpayers.
The Student Adjustment Act and the DREAM Act address this injustice by lifting federal restrictions that prohibit states from providing in-state tuition to these students.
This legislation also grants legal residency to immigrant students that qualify so they can pursue their professional careers after graduation.
Today, hundreds of students from across this nation have taken the long journey to Washington, D.C. to share their personal experiences and dreams of a higher education.
These students provide compelling examples of how the Student Adjustment Act and the DREAM Act can create an opportunity for young people to excel and give back to their community, and our nation.
The injustice of their treatment, their inspiring personal stories, and desire to become productive citizens of this country by attending college is what inspired me to introduce the Student Adjustment Act, along with Congressman Howard Berman of California and Congressman Chris Cannon of Utah.
Their personal stories and the injustice of the federal law have also inspired Americans throughout the country to join our efforts to provide these students equal access to college.
In fact, nearly 100,000 concerned individuals, including teachers, principals, community, and business leaders, have signed petitions urging President Bush to support the Student Adjustment Act and the DREAM Act because they know that providing access to higher education for these young men and women is the right thing to do for them and for the future of our country.
As the next generation of educated professionals, these students will help fill our country’s critical need for professionals such as teachers, nurses, doctors, scientist, and entrepreneurs. As taxpayers, they will one day help to strengthen our nation’s economy and the lives of all Americans.
This graduation season, as bright and eager students prepare to attend college, thousands of other immigrant students – just as bright and just as eager—will be left behind.
We will continue to fight until we end this injustice.
I urge the congressional leadership to pass these two important bills and send them to the President for his signature.
And President Bush, we ask you to make the Student Adjustment Act and the DREAM Act a legislative priority and sign the final bill into law, so every qualified student across our great nation has the same opportunity to succeed and to pursue the American Dream.
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