I read an article not too long ago about a case in Georgia where the plaintiffs were a group of College students like me (Olvera v. Uni. Sys. of Georgia’s Bd. of Regents), they were all Dreamers. The case was,in short, the students pushing to have in-state tuition within the state of Georgia. As a result of being undocumented they have no other option but to pay out-of-state tuition which left most no choice but to take two classes per semester totaling about $5,000. This doesn’t seem all too bad, it is essentially a little less than what I paid every semester at CUNY Hunter, however these students can only take two classes making an already long and stressful period seem eternal. The argument made by the students, who are protected by DACA, is that in order to be granted DACA, a childhood arrival must provide evidence of a “lawful presence” within the United States. Something that they, like myself, are able to provide with ease: records of school transcripts and any other paper trail we may have. That being, it seems almost incomprehensible to me that my fellow Dreamers be forced to an out-of-state status.
This case was decided on the 1st of this month, after the Board of Georgia moved to have the case dismissed. The judge affirmed and dismissed the case under sovereign immunity, granting the State the ability to keep the students as outsiders.
The way I see it this is an unfair tax over something that we have no control over. It is hugely disadvantageous and dangerous because this could cause students to quit school. Schooling is something that I have come to realize is extremely important and makes all the difference in the world, the contrasts between those of us lucky enough to go to school and those who cannot is startling. I do not even have to go far to see it, I see it at home, with myself and my parents. They work hard every day- manual labor, while I work in an office where most of my job takes place in front of a computer. I used to work with my mother as a housekeeper, I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum, and if a simple thing like being “in-state” or “out-of-state” makes all the difference, then I can count myself one of the lucky ones-a privilege for the unprivileged. I arrived in New York when I was three years old, thanks to my parents and a visa. Right off the bat I was doing pretty good, parents who want nothing but the best for me, and the protection of a city that is a safe heaven for the undocumented. I only felt the pang of fear of “out-of-state” my first semester of college, when I got a bill for approximately $8,000. I quickly gathered my high school diploma and mail I had received from a pen-pal, and ran to the admissions office. It was a process that took no more than 10 minutes-simple and without delegation.
The judge recommended that each student present an individual case against the Bd. of Georgia, suggesting they would see better results, however there is no evidence that any of the students have done so yet. This might be due to the results of the first time around, and going at it alone isn’t exactly something easy to do, specially during an election year when it becomes increasingly evident how voiceless we are. But I hope that someone steps up again soon, it is unjust and risks the future of many Dreamers whose one goal is to make a better life for themselves and their families. Even though many of use get to reap the benefits of DACA there are still some of us that are fighting for it, and we should all stand with them making their fights known.