Commentary

Today’s must read: NC’s cruel and counterproductive policies toward immigrant kids

Maria Cortez-Perez, 18, a graduate of Southwest Guilford High School, speak to her peers and reporters on tuition equity for undocumented and DACA students. Photo by Ricky Leung / NC Policy WatchBe sure to take a few minutes today to read Burgetta Eplin Wheeler’s excellent essay in Raleigh’s News & Observer about North Carolina’s knuckle-headed policies toward immigrant children looking to attend college. As Wheeler explains in “Stomping on the dreams of deserving students,” North Carolina remains part of a shrinking group of states that require DACA kids (those who came here as small children and have grown up in the U.S., paid taxes and been granted status to remain in the country) to pay out-of-state tuition to attend college even when they’ve lived virtually their entire lives in North Carolina. To make matters even more absurd, the state is denying these kids the right to receive scholarships they’ve earned. Here’s Wheeler:

“He should be waking up Friday, the day after his Wake County high school graduation, joyfully anticipating college in the fall, with admission to a Division III school in hand, a football position secured, a financial aid package all set.

On his resume are honor roll student, football team captain, Academic All Conference, N.C. Scholar Athlete.

This is a young man who worked throughout high school as a referee for youth sports, who spent his steamy Carolina summers laboring in construction with his dad. A phenomenal kid, conscientious, dependable, honest.

Every rule he could choose to follow, he has done so without complaint.

What he didn’t choose was to come to the United States at age 4 illegally with his parents.

Yet so many among us want to punish him for it.”

After detailing the numbers of kids impacted by these policies and reiterating the absurd notion of deporting millions of people who are here to stay, Wheeler concludes this way:

“Making it impossible for worthy and able students to pursue college degrees and forcing them into lower-paying unskilled jobs serves absolutely no one. To whom is a victory awarded by keeping the hard-working young man of character, ability and intellect I know out of college? For those with purely mercenary concerns, remember the better his job, the higher the wages, the higher the taxes and the higher the economy-greasing consumption.

By lifting the gut-churning fear of deportation and making work permits and driver’s licenses possible, DACA has been a magnificent first step toward rationality, practicality and kindness.

Giving this Wake County high school honor graduate and others like him the opportunity to be all they can be should be the next one.”

 

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