Undocumented Immigrant Education Literature Review

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UndocumentedImmigrant Education: Literature Review

UndocumentedImmigrant Education: Literature Review

Thepressing need to have more people access college education has seenthe recent rise in the number of states debating on whether to makeit possible for undocumented students to attend college. The argumenthas been centred on their inclusion in the in-state tuition rateswhere a majority of the states have made it hard for these learnersto acquire higher education levels of learning with the exception ofa few (Saunders, 2016). The existing law, however, falls under theU.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement of 2008, which leaves thechoice to the states on whether to allow illegal refugees into theirpost-secondary establishments or not. The changes in governmentthrough the new presidency has brought bigger uncertainties on thefuture of undocumented students, most of who are classified asimmigrants and fall under the new immigration laws that are likely totake effect shortly. The current literature review seeks to revealthat there is much that needs to be done to ensure that theundocumented students take part in higher education in the country,especially with the ongoing debates regarding their privileges.

Accordingto a report by the National Conference of State Legislations (2015),around 18 states allowed undocumented students to access in-tuitionrates through their legislations. Some of them include California andTexas that have the highest levels of undocumented immigrants. On theother hand, states such as Arizona, Georgia, and Indiana are reportedto have prohibited undocumented students from accessing these rates.In other extremes, others including Alabama and South Carolina denythem from getting any form of post-secondary education, which meansthat they have further challenges to overcome apart from affordinghigher learning (National Conference of State Legislations, 2015). Bythe year 2015, Texas which is known to have made it possible for mostof its undocumented students to receive higher education was set torepeal the set law for one that removed this privilege.

Moreover,with the mandate on whether to allow illegal immigrants into thehigher education institution across the U.S falling into the hands ofthe states, the fight to ensure that they acquire education rightswith citizens is far from over (Ibarra &amp Sherman, 2012). As citedabove, there are many reasons that most states are against the idea,while those that are in support make their ideas for their backing.One of the major arguments that has been pitched by the opponents offinancial support for undocumented students is that they takeopportunities away from the citizens and those legally in the U.S. Itis argued that since they are illegally in the country, they shouldnot have the privilege of accessing higher education as this takesaway the limited slots and opportunities from those who are legallyin the country (Perez, 2015). It is also lawfully known that anypersons who are unlawfully in U.S. are not qualified for any publicbenefit and the financial aids are part of this. Additionally, theyargue that allowing them to access further education encourages moreillegal immigrants into the country as more seek to gain theseprivileges (National Conference of State Legislations, 2015).

Apartfrom taking away an opportunity from those who deserve them, thegranting of support to the immigrants, according to the opponents,further impacts on the tax. Funds to support in-state financial aidto students are taken from levy money which seems to be high sincethe cost of education is considerably massive. In this case, amajority of these learners need help paying their fees (Walker,2016). Those against it further point out to the fact that theseimmigrants remain unemployable after graduating because they continueto be undocumented, which means that it is a waste of tax money(Saunders, 2016). Without documentation, these migrants do not gethigh paying jobs and, therefore, fail to make any additional input tothe country’s tax, which translates into wastage of money in thelong run.

Despitethe huge opposition to the in-state tuition laws in most states,there have been supporting for them, which is further proven by theprogress in the regions that have provided easier systems forundocumented students to access education. For example, a report byPerez (2015) done for the Center for American Progress notes thatefforts in Texas to educate this group of learners led them toacquire better-paying jobs. In fact, according to the report, thiswas due to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program of 2012through which young people can receive provisional expulsiondeferral, which gives them access to renewable work licenses (Perez,2015).

Additionally,to counter the assumption that education for the illegal immigrantsonly costs the states of their taxes. It is noted that the immigrantsare likely to stay in the country after graduation meaning that theyget jobs or something to do. Perez (2015) notes that in 2010, Texasundocumented immigrants paid 1.6 billion in tax where a portion of itwas directed at supporting education. It is contrary to the beliefthat taxpayers’ money is utilized unfairly to finance the learningof undocumented migrants (Perez, 2015). It is further noted that thelack of laws that ensure employment of qualified undocumentedimmigrants leads to their lack of work and further severs the chancethey could have in boosting the economy because most of them residein U.S. after school (Visalogambros, 2016).

Also,states that do not allow undocumented immigrants to accesspost-secondary education propel the irony and inconsistency of thepolicies, which allow them to access prior knowledge that only endsat secondary school (Walker, 2016). It is contradicting since thesestudents also need to access higher learning if they are qualified tohelp them acquire the ability to be socially independent and mobile(Boza &amp Merlin, 2016b). Giving them a chance and favorableconditions to access further education provides an incentive for themto go through the secondary level and seek to attend college, whicheventually allows them to find jobs. By the end of the cycle, theybecome part of the economy and contribute to the growth of thestate’s revenues (Perez, 2014). It is, therefore, only logical forstates to appeal their laws and make them more friendly to illegalimmigrant students.

Thelack of education opportunities, fostered by systems that denylearning to the undocumented immigrants’ population in the country,costs more in the state. A majority of these migrants belong to theminority groups in the country as part of the community that is notedto have high crime rates and social cases that impact on revenuethrough higher costs in the management of prisons and welfare systems(Perez, 2014). Without an income model, it is likely that a massivenumber of these people turn to crime for their sustenance while therest fall under the various social welfare programs set up to supportlow-income families (Walker, 2016). Therefore, promoting educationfor the undocumented immigrants is consequently not to their benefitalone, but to the advantage of the entire American community.

Ontop of that, it should be noted that in legal terms, there are nofederal laws that have been put in place to deny undocumentedimmigrants the access to further education after secondary school. Inthis case, it becomes clear that the limitation is only in somestates. However, the major barrier has been cited as a financialconstraint, which has resulted in a huge number failing to afford thefees required in most colleges and universities (Ibarra &ampSherman, 2012). As discussed, it is evident that the laws that makeit difficult to access university education are related to receivingin-state tuition that covers for much of the fees. As Ibarra andSherman (2012) point out in their report, many of these students failto attend college since they are turned away when they seek financialsupport from their states. It is also noted that majority of thosewho drop out while in secondary school do so because they do notbelieve that there is any chance for them to afford higher educationafter going through the secondary level (Saunders, 2016).

Furthermore,private universities and institutions remain an option for mostundocumented immigrants where the challenge is admission andacquisition of scholarships because most are expensive. The best andmost prioritized universities that offer scholarships to their needystudents, such as Harvard, only have spaces, thus, narrowing down thechances of getting a chance (Boza &amp Merlin, 2016a). Additionally,those that are not as selective have limited access to financial helpfor their disadvantaged learners. At the moment, only a few of theseuniversities provide subsidized fees for the undocumented immigrants,while a large portion of them still considers them as internationalstudents who are known to pay higher charges compared to citizens(Boza &amp Merlin, 2016b). Therefore, that means that there arelimited options for this group of immigrants when it comes to findinghigher education spots.

Indeed,those who manage to afford higher education are further faced withthe challenge of finding jobs within the country since federal lawsensure that only documented immigrants and citizens can findemployment (Perez, 2014). Though California provides a good exampleof states that have made it possible for this group to access highereducation, these policies have also been seen to impact on a majorityof the students where they lack access to federal grants, work study,and loans from the government (Eusebio &amp Mendoza, 2015). Theaspect of the system points out to the gaps that exist in the wholeimmigrant policy where both federal and state laws contradict eachother. It is clear because it beats logic to educate undocumentedimmigrants and then have them all as unqualified to get any goodemployment in the country yet they are well-suited for the variouspositions in the workforce (Boza &amp Merlin, 2016b). Clearly, thereis a need to repeal these policies since the country is in need ofmore trained and qualified workforce where positions will need peoplewho have qualifications higher than secondary school level.

Thereport by Ibarra and Sherman (2012) goes further in discussing thedivide that exists between states regarding the education ofundocumented immigrants. It makes clear that the laws punish youngpeople who had no choice when their parents got into the countryillegally and should, therefore, not be punished for their mistakes.Additionally, it points out that there is a need to come up withimmigration policies that are coherent throughout the country toensure equal chances for entry into higher education and financialbenefit (Saunders, 2016). Furthermore, it should translate into thework standards which should make sure that they gain employability tohelp the economy as opposed to having them in the country (Ibarra &ampSherman, 2012).

AsEusebio and Mendoza (2015) point out, the undocumented immigrants whopursue higher education are only a small fraction of the entirepopulation, which puts them as highly motivated individuals. Usingthe statistics from California, Eusebio and Mendoza (2015) note thatonly around 1% to 2% of the entire college population is made up ofillegal immigrants, which shows that they are very few compared towhat is the thought of many. Additionally, these students are part ofthe few who overcome social and economic challenges and qualify topursue post-secondary education which means they are worthy offinancial aid.

Accordingto many reports as compiled by Perez (2014), these students are whatthe U.S. economy needs, highly motivated, creative and determinedemployees in their workforce. This leads to the conclusion that it isonly logic for the U.S. to support the education of this home-growntalent since the country already offers scholarships to immigrantsfrom other countries that learn and leave (Perez, 2015). Boostingeducation of undocumented immigrants is not counteractive to theeconomy but rather an advantage since these people stay in the onlyplace they have known as home since childhood.

Allin all, understanding the need for more favorable policies in allstates regarding the education of undocumented immigrants isimperative, considering the wide opposition the existing policiesface. The case of Texas and California, which both represent a largepopulation of the undocumented immigrants and how the state policieswere favoring their access to education function help in this study.The possible repeal of policies in Texas points to the issue and themany negative assumptions about providing easier access to educationfor its entire people. In summation, both California and Texas serveto give data for where the current policies used at both federal andstate level regarding education and employment fail to provide acoherent solution to the problem.


Boza,T.G. &amp Merlin B. (2016a). Here’s how undocumented students areable to enrol at American universities. TheBig Story.Retrieved fromhttp://www.bigstory.ap.org/article/07dd660dd44747ffb8a43365f6b41261/heres-how-undocumented–students-are-able-enroll-american

Boza,T.G. &amp Merlin B. (2016b). How do undocumented students enrol inhigher education? Newsweek.Retrieved fromhttp://europe.newsweek.com/undocumented-students-enroll-higher-education-525289?rm=eu

Eusebio,C., &amp Mendoza, F. (2015). The case for undocumented students inhigher education.Educatorsfor Fair Consideration.Retrieved fromhttp://www.fullerton.edu/ab540/_resources/docs/undcases.pdf

Ibarra,H., &amp Sherman, R. (2012). Higher education opportunities forundocumented students in the united states: What are the policyimplications for educators and legislators.&nbspJournalof Education Policy,1-8. Retrievedfromhttps://nau.edu/uploadedFiles/Academic/COE/About/Projects/Higher%20Education%20Opportunities%20for%20Undocumented%20Students%20in%20the%20United%20States.pdf

NationalConference of State Legislatures. (2015). Undocumented students’tuition: Overview. NCSL.Retrieved fromhttp://www.ncsl.org/research/education/undocumented-student-tuition-overview.aspx

Perez,Z.J. (2014). Removing Barriers to Higher Education for UndocumentedStudents. Centerfor American Progress.Retrieved fromhttp://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2014/12/05/101366/removing-barriers-to-higher-education-for-undocumented-students/

Perez,Z.J. (2015). States must expand higher education opportunities forundocumented students. Center for American Progress. Retrieved fromhttps://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/news/2015/03/13/108672/states-must-expand-higher-education-opportunities-for-undocumented-students/

Saunders,B. (2016). Higher tuition a barrier for undocumented students’college dreams. Missourian.Retrieved fromhttp://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/higher_education/high-tuition-a-barrier-for-undocumented-students-college-dreams/article_08f54f82-01ba-11e6-b1aa-e72d5f6bd9b8.html

Visalogambros,M. (2016). The folly of under-educating the undocumented. TheAtlantic.Web,http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-folly-of-under-educating-the-undocumented/473877/

Walker,T. (2016). How undocumented students are turned away from publicschools. NeaToday.Retrieved fromhttp://www.neatoday.org/2016/04/22/undocumented-students-public-schools