It’s Hard Not Being a Citizen and Going to College

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College is expensive, and it’s not getting any cheaper. Low income students have to rely on scholarships or taking a part-time (or full-time) job in order to pay for their education. However, for students who are undocumented or “illegal” immigrants, it’s a lot worse.

One such person was Stephanie Solis: her parents recently revealed, after 18 years, that she was not an American citizen. She had been living in America all her life but did not have citizenship because she was born in the Philippines. Solis was shocked that her parents hid this information from her for so long. To her, it was betrayal.

Solis moved away and took a factory job making cardboard boxes so she could attend UCLA. But her status as an illegal immigrant left her ineligible for financial aid, scholarships, and other services like a driver’s license and library card. Juggling a job and her education had an impact both academically socially, since it took her longer to get a degree.

As a result, many of her friends graduated before she did.

Stephanie’s situation is unfortunate and tragic. However, it could’ve been avoided, had her parents applied for legal status. However, many illegal immigrants don’t have the advantage of living in the United States for 18 years.

Immigration is a problem in this country and is very divisive. And while the situation for many immigrants is understandable our country can only hold so many people without overcrowding. In order to curb this problem, we have to pass laws that don’t encourage people to come here illegally – and going to college is one of them.

What should be done is if immigrants want to come to America for an education, they should apply for a visa in their native country. With this visa, schools should be given an option to provide financial aid to these people when applicable. Colleges can give these students the option of applying for citizenship and help them do so.

This is only a suggestion, as there are certainly many flaws in it. It’s a complex situation that won’t be resolved anytime soon, which is unfortunate for students like Solis.

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