Children of Illegal Immigrants in Virginia Sue for In-State Student Tuition

Posted: Dec 18, 2013 3:00 PM

“Giancarla Rojas is not an American citizen, but she has an American dream,” the Washington Post soliloquizes, before trying to persuade readers that young adults in the US who were brought here illegally deserve to pay the same college tuition as longtime US citizens.

Rojas is an undocumented student and resident of Falls Church, VA trying to get into George Mason University, yet finding herself stymied by the school’s price tag.

The 19-year-old cannot afford the out-of-state tuition of $29,000 a year Virginia charges people with her immigration status, so she and six other students filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Arlington County Circuit Court arguing that they should be able to pay the same lower rates as other longtime Virginia residents.

If Rojas and the six other students succeed against the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), their tuition will be slashed by a third to just $9,900.

Virginia is just the latest state to consider granting the benefit to children brought to the US illegally. Maryland was one of 17 states to approve the grant last year. After the DREAM Act failed to pass in Congress, President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows children who were brought here illegally to avoid deportation if they are attending school and have a clean record. In Virginia, nearly 7,000 students have been granted DACA status. The lawsuit brought forward by the seven undocumented students in Virginia seeks in-state tuition rates at public schools for those eligible for DACA.

I get it, Rojas and her fellow plaintiffs can’t afford college. But neither can a lot of students. What about all of the legal American citizens who have an American dream? Offering Rojas a lower tuition rate while other out-of-state, yet documented citizens of the US, face higher rates doesn’t seem all that fair.

Yet, the WaPo is trying to earn empathy points.

Despite the hard work, Rojas’s grip on her dream remains tenuous. Robbie Snow, the community coordinator at ABCD, said it would be a shame if Rojas did not attend George Mason.

“You don’t want someone like her flipping burgers in McDonald’s,” Snow said. “You want her working for the betterment of the state.”

The same goes for documented US students, who have admirable back stories and ambitious goals of their own.

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