... the mighty, mighty students!
01.16.02 // 5:57 p.m.

We are the students!
The mighty, mighty students!
Fighting for justice,
And an education!

Today’s been a long day and it’s only a little after 5, which means I still have about another 7 or 8 hours of awake time. I wrote earlier about the awful Viewpoint article criticizing me in the school paper. Even though it bugged me I decided to move on and do something more proactive like attend a rally in favor of California State Assembly Bill (AB) 540.

The facts:

Governor Gray Davis signed AB 540, authored by Assemblyman Marco Antonio Firebaugh in October 2001. As of January 1, 2002 the bill was implemented at the California State Universities 27 campuses and numerous community colleges, but it has yet to be implemented at the University of California’s 9 campuses.

The bill gives undocumented students Cal state residency status for tuition purposes. The rates for Cal citizens are considerably lower than for non-residents. At the UC it’s about a $10,000/year difference. The students who would benefit from AB 540 are those who graduated from a Cal high school, attended a Cal high school for at least 3 years, and who are in the process of obtaining legal residency or citizenship status.

Why is it important?

Because all students should have a right to education regardless of whether or not they are “legal” residents. I know this issue isn’t limited to Chicanos/Latinos, but it does affect our community greatly. Immigrant students are told that education is the key to their dreams. So, they work hard throughout their K-12 career so they can earn a spot in one of California’s prestigious UC schools. They may earn a spot, but then the doors are shut. They learn that even though they’ve been living in California since they were little kids, they are not considered “residents” of the state. Their parents work and pay taxes here, and they may do the same themselves. They are told that if they want to attend the UC they will have to pay $14,000 in tuition for the year. Did I mention that they aren’t eligible for financial aid and for many scholarships? That’s a lot of money to pay… unless they’re really rich, which the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not. The state has already spent many years investing in these students’ educations at public schools. They have excelled and proven that they are productive members of society. They have so much to offer their communities and the state in general. Why play a cruel joke on them and tell them that education is the path to take to achieve their dreams, but then shut the door on them when they are so close. I guess immigrants are good enough to clean their homes, be nannies and do the gardening, but not to attend universities and become professionals who might upset the power structure that so many people want to keep in place.

I can only hope that the UC Regents vote for the full and immediate implementation of AB 540 tomorrow. It sucks that the fate of so many bright and intelligent students rests on the votes of a handful of self-interested Regents.

Its good to know that there’s lots of student, staff and faculty support. It’s not just the Chicano/Latino community out there either. Three was a diverse group of students participating in the rally. Although I was almost losing my voice I continued to chant and hold up my beautiful sign I made myself stating that no “human being is illegal!”

¡Si se puede!

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