Monday, October 26, 2009

Nightmare of a Dream Student

TUCSON, Ariz. -- I’ll refer to her as Leticia X.

She is undocumented, but has been in this country since the age of
three and is a top student at her high school. Yet, unless the law
changes soon, she will be unable to continue with her studies. She
tells my students at the University of Arizona that it is wrong that
she will not be able to attend college next year: “I consider myself a
U.S. citizen. It’s the only country I’ve ever known.”

Her symbolic mother is Leticia A -- a student who set the legal
precedent in 1982 in Plyler v. Doe in Texas, permitting undocumented
students to be able to attend public K-12 schools, without having to
pay exorbitant out-of-state tuition.

Today, Leticia X struggles to change this policy to include K-16
students. If out-of-state fees are exorbitant for out of state K-12
students, the rates are stratospheric for out-of-state college
students, generally costing tens of thousands of dollars yearly.

Leticia X is part of a nationwide movement – nearly a decade old – to
pass legislation that would permit students such as her, to be able to
attend college at in-state rates. It’s called the DREAM Act. A
majority of members of Congress support it, but since 2001, they’ve
never been able to garner the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to
bring it to a full vote (cloture). It even has a controversial
provision that was injected into it that would permit students to also
qualify for U.S. residency by first going into the military for two
years. A terrible compromise, but even that has not worked.

It pains me that I cannot publicly identify Leticia X. The irony is
that she, like many other DREAM students do identify themselves in
public. Apparently, they are more trusting of government than I am.

For the full column, go to:

For further info on such students as Leticia X, please go to:

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be
reached at

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