You Don’t Speak for Me, a Hispanic civil rights group, joined a growing chorus of voices urging the State Board of Community Colleges to prohibit illegal alien admissions. The board, which includes gubernatorial candidate Beverly Perdue (D), is scheduled to discuss this issue at its luncheon meeting today.
Read their letter to the board:
Richard W. Sullins, M.A., Ed.
Executive Director of the State Board
North Carolina Community College System
200 West Jones Street
Raleigh, NC 27603-1379
Dear Mr. Sullins:
We are executive members of the Hispanic civil rights group, "You Don’t Speak for Me", an advocacy organization consisting of American citizens of Hispanic heritage who advocate for comprehensive immigration enforcement and reform. Our organization educates the public, the media and key elected officials about the "other side of the immigration debate": that is, that Hispanic opinion on the issue of illegal immigration is not monolithic nor necessarily in agreement with the open-border, amnesty and illegal immigration advocacy organizations. That being said, one of the issues we strongly oppose is the provision of access and public tuition subsidies in any form, (including in-state tuition discounts) to U.S. colleges and universities to foreign nationals residing in our country illegally.
We support all students in their efforts to pursue higher education … and illegal immigrant students are no exception. However, these students are not being denied opportunities to go to college. They have every right and opportunity to do so in their home countries and in most cases tuition at public universities in most of Latin America is free (in Mexico, for example) or less than what it costs American students for college textbooks for a year. It certainly doesn’t make any sense to just ignore the opportunities that these students have and instead demand that our state and federal laws be changed to accommodate their special interests to the detriment of taxpayers, citizens and even foreign nationals who are here on student visas.
Here are some points to consider in this debate:
1. For example, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a world-class university (that claims several Nobel laureates as alumni), and its 60+ campuses are FREE to Mexican nationals. Any Mexican national living in the United States or elsewhere has the right and opportunity to attend college in Mexico for free. The Mexican government via its 48 consulates in the United States has a responsibility to disseminate this information and ease the process for illegal immigrant students from Mexico to enroll in those institutions. Their failure to do so has denied many students and their families the opportunity to pursue higher education … it is not a failure of our laws. The choices the families have made have limited the opportunities for the students here; but in no way has that affected their ability to go to college in Mexico, for example, for free (and that is something even American citizens do not have available).
2. Granting access, financial aid, and even public tuition subsidies to illegal alien students is fundamentally unfair. …
Every year, thousands of foreign nationals go through the lengthy and tedious process of gaining admission, and complying with the legal, medical and financial requirements necessary to obtain a student visa (including taking and passing the TOEFL, and providing proof of funds to cover tuition, fees and living expenses, health insurance coverage, etc.). In general, foreign nationals on student visas are not granted any special "path to citizenship" upon the expiration of their visa or termination of studies at the institution to which they were admitted. The student visa holders are required to return to their home countries or seek an extension before expiration. Student visa holders are not given automatic work authorization either. The proposed federal DREAM Act would have granted all these benefits to illegal immigrants thereby placing the illegal immigrant students in a better position than the foreign nationals who complied with our laws.
More importantly, in the case of foreign nationals studying in North Carolina, those on student visas are automatically ineligible for federal financial aid, including student loans and most state scholarships, loans, and grants — including in-state tuition subsidies.
To allow foreign nationals residing illegally in North Carolina to gain admission to any college or university in the state, whether private or public, is to set up a de facto waiver of federal immigration laws requiring such individuals to obtain a student visa prior to entry into the United States.
That is, some foreign nationals are made to submit proof of legal entry and student visas while illegal alien students are not. Providing in-state college tuition benefits to illegal immigrant students also places those students who are illegally present in a better, more advantageous position than those foreign nationals who have complied with the requirements of our immigration laws.
3. Illegal immigrant students studying in their nation of origin gain advantages on either side of the border. …
Armed with a U.S. high school diploma, excellent English language skills and a college degree from universities in their nation of origin, most of these students would make excellent candidates for any number of type of visas should they choose to return to the United States in the future. Should they remain in their nation of origin, the same education, language skills and career path would make them highly marketable candidates for higher-paying positions in their nation of origin. The nations of origin of the students in question should be happy to receive their "best and brightest" as they have potential and a unique perspective to affect positive change and contribute not only to their own personal gain but to their families, their communities and their country.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss this aspect of illegal immigration further with you. Please feel free to contact us as indicated below.
Lee Anthony Nieves, Chapter President Mariann S. Davies, Esq.
You Don’t Speak for Me – North Carolina Vice-Chair and Charter Member