Illegal Immigrants in College
March 22, 2008 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone tell me the percentage of children of illegal immigrants who attend college? Specifically in Texas. We are arguing the HB 104 (in state tuition bill) in my government class and I need to know how many children of illegal immigrants who were not born in the US actually attend institutions of higher education....
posted by madmamasmith to Law & Government (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So these children are themselves illegal immigrants themselves as well? I am unsure of their citizenship in your question.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:10 PM on March 22, 2008

If they are born on American soil, wouldn't that make them legal American citizens? Or is that not true anymore?

OK, Just looked it up. It's still true. Children born on US soil, regardless of the citizenship of their parents, are American citizens. (Wikipedia link)
posted by lockle at 6:22 PM on March 22, 2008

Response by poster: Yes currently children born to illegal immigrants in US are legally American. What I am asking about are those who crossed the border as young children and now attend college. My original question actually says " ...who were not born in the US...."
posted by madmamasmith at 6:28 PM on March 22, 2008

There is no easy way to measure this. The students don't self-report as illegal immigrants, rather, they just don't file a FAFSA and/or don't list a SSN.

At my university, in California, where having graduated from a California high school deems a student "in-state" (thus allowing for students to pay only about $9k a year in tuition), those students are in an entirely different category for financial aid. (I'm on the financial aid committee.)

It appears that a lot of these kids have 1 family member who is legal, who will take out a credit card to pay for school. Others might use neighborhood "loan sharks" to get the money to pay for tuition.

Here's our campus's site for "undocumented students" as we call them.

One outcome that is worth thinking about -- I've had a lot of undergraduate students graduate, have a nice BA in their hands, and without a SSN are totally screwed. They end up working illegally as babysitters or waitstaff. They don't have a snowball's chance in hell to make it in the U.S.

If they were smart, they'd do a nursing program or some other under-staffed type of work so that they could get back into the U.S. with relative ease.

Some of them consider moving "back to the home country" - but that would involve leaving their families AND they'd be punished for overstaying their visas or whatever they did to get to the U.S. in the first place. If their parents brought them into the U.S. before they are 18, they aren't thrown in jail or anything, but they are still banned from re-applying for a visa to return for many years.

I'm not saying that in-state tuition for these kids isn't cool, but that there are some unfortunate long-term consequences...
posted by k8t at 6:30 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

The closest you probably could come in Texas would be to research how many children who were immigrants (whether legally or illegally) go on to college? Schools do not keep track of whether or not they are legally here.
posted by tamitang at 6:46 PM on March 22, 2008

This link might help.
posted by tamitang at 6:48 PM on March 22, 2008

Also, to get the percentage of illegal immigrants who attend college, you need to determine the total number of illegal immigrants. Again, since they don't stand up and identify themselves as illegal, the best you can get is an educated guess.
posted by winston at 6:54 PM on March 22, 2008

Also, in the "pro" column, as I just mentioned, these illegal immigrant kids are a HUGE revenue source for the universities. They aren't eligible for any financial aid from state or federal money, but they pay full in-state tuition.

At UC Santa Barbara we only have about 5% of our student body paying full tuition without any aid from the U, the state or the feds. These kids are sort of freebies for the school - more kids, more money, etc.... and they wouldn't have paid out-of-state tuition. They get an education, the university gets more good students that pay lots of money. WIN-WIN.

Also, here in California, the way that admissions work for public schools (the UCs and the Cal States), is that the top 10% of a high school graduating class is pretty much given admission to one of the public universities... it is called the California Master Plan for Higher Ed and it seems to work pretty well. "Hence, the Plan laid out that the top 12.5% (1/8th) of graduating high school seniors would be guaranteed a place at one of the University of California campuses (Berkeley, Los Angeles, etc.); the top third would be able to enter the California State University (San Francisco State, Cal State L.A., etc.); and that the community colleges would accept all applications. Previously the UC's admissions standards allowed the top 15% of the state to enroll, and the CSU would accept the top half."
So in California, our students that get into the UCs aren't lazy bastards - they are GREAT KIDS. top 12.5% at at UCSB it is usually top 6%.
posted by k8t at 7:34 PM on March 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here are some demographics, but they are a bit old. They estimated 25k undocumented college students in California.

Also, in regards to the "just move here" comment earlier, here are the years of high school in-state residency reqs: California, Three years; Illinois, Three years; Kansas, Three years; Nebraska, Three years; New Mexico, One year; New York, Two years; Oklahoma, Two years; Texas, Three years; Utah, Three years; Washington, Three years.

But more toward the OP's question:
"According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, in fall 2001, 393 students attended institutions of higher education as Texas residents based on Section 54.052(j) of the Education Code; of these, 300 attended community colleges. In fall 2004, nearly 10 times as many students received in-state rates due to Section 54.052(j) provisions—3,792, more than 75 percent of whom attended community colleges."

and the cost to the state is on there - looks like 2mln in 2001 and 11mln in 2004 when they changed the rules.

Here's the doc.
posted by k8t at 7:56 PM on March 22, 2008

Response by poster:
So illegal immigrants are eligible for in-state tuition if they graduate from in-state high schools but they do not receive FAFSA? And delmoi is the Dream Act actually in effect or is it just pending?
posted by madmamasmith at 12:48 AM on March 23, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed - this is a question about numbers, not politics, please save political arguing for email or metatalk, thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:53 AM on March 23, 2008

Dream Act is in effect in the states mentioned above. They get in-state tuition if they graduated (and spent a number of years) at an in-state high school. They are not eligible for any state or federal financial aid - so no FAFSA.
posted by k8t at 10:44 AM on March 23, 2008

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