ILNews

Stopped short

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Editor’s note: The student in this story – Victoria – asked that her last name be withheld due to her status as an undocumented immigrant.

Victoria remembers the day she got the worst news of her life.

Her cousin was in town, and her parents had been acting strange the whole day, she said. Her parents had learned that Indiana had just passed a law prohibiting in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants, but they wanted to make sure the news was true before telling their daughter. After Victoria and her cousin left the house, her father found an article online confirming the news. He printed it and gave it to Victoria when she came home.

“I was inconsolable for a week,” she said. “I’m not asking for the moon; I’m just asking for an education.”

Victoria is a 22-year-old, straight-A student who has lived in Indiana since her family came here from Mexico 11 years ago. Like many other undocumented immigrants her age, she now is stuck in limbo with no clear path to citizenship and no real connection to the country where she was born. She struggles to understand how she could grow up in a close-knit community on the outskirts of Bloomington – getting good grades, playing in the marching band, going to prom – yet as an adult, be treated as an outsider.

“I thought I was just like any other kid as I grew up,” she said. “I knew I was from a different country, but I didn’t realize I was different until I graduated from high school.”

Costs and consequences

Victoria was working toward a degree in International Studies at Indiana University. She had managed to pay her own in-state tuition and had about a year and a half left to go before graduation. But now that she’s no longer eligible for in-state tuition, she’s trying to figure out what to do.

For the 2011-2012 school year, the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition and fees for full-time students is

about $20,000. And with no advance warning of the change in Indiana’s law, Victoria

did not have time to find and apply for scholarships before the start of the fall semester. She’s trying now to find scholarships, but she worries that too few dollars exist for students like her. “I almost wonder if I should just give up and let someone else have it,” she said of potential scholarships.

Until Public Law 209 cut off in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in Indiana, universities were free to develop their own policies about residency requirements. Mark Land, associate vice president of university communications for IU, said citizenship was never a requirement to attend IU.

“If they went to high school here and had a residence here, we didn’t ask for proof that you were a citizen,” he said. “There wasn’t any policy as far as we were concerned. We never had any reason to ask this question.”

The fiscal impact statement accompanying House Bill 1402, the legislation that resulted in PL 209, stated: “Universities could experience an increase in tuition fee revenue by requiring unlawfully present aliens to pay nonresident tuition.” At IU, the law’s effect on tuition revenue is negligible, Land said.

mark land Land

Before the 2011 fall semester began, students were required to fill out an online affidavit which asked whether they were lawfully present in this country. Of IU’s 110,000 students statewide, 146 said they were undocumented immigrants; of that number, 90 students enrolled in fall classes, but Land said he did not know how many classes those students were taking.

How school officials can be sure students are telling the truth is a question Land said officials have been asked.

“Our answer has been, it’s an electronic affidavit … but we’re not running down these kids. We’re not going to run down 110,000 kids and ask them to show proof. And we don’t have to,” he said.

The majority of undocumented IU students were at the Indianapolis and South Bend campuses, which tend to attract students who are “non-traditional.”

“Not in all cases, but they tend to be older students, they’re putting themselves through school, they’re working full-time,” Land said of the students outside Bloomington. “My guess is that you’re going to find a lot of these kids are part-time.”

Eric Otto, director of admissions for the University of Southern Indiana, said that the school had – and still has – four undocumented immigrant students. He said that churches in the Evansville area had pitched in to help the students pay their increased tuitions.

“I think most of us in higher education were a bit surprised,” Otto said of PL 209. “We looked into: Can we grandfather these students in?”

He said about five or six other students – most of whom had already been admitted to USI for the fall term – decided not to attend and to enroll elsewhere due to the jump in tuition costs. Victoria’s younger sister chose a similar path, attending Ivy Tech due to its lower out-of-state tuition costs.

Barriers to citizenship

Victoria’s search for solutions led her to Lewis & Kappes immigration attorney Angela Adams. But due to a complex mix of seemingly counterproductive federal laws, Adams is powerless to help Victoria get the papers she needs to qualify for in-state tuition.

Victoria’s mother married an American citizen, who adopted Victoria and her sister. Her mother is in the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident, and three years after that happens, she will be eligible to become a U.S. citizen.

Because Victoria was 18 years old before the marriage and adoption occurred, under federal law, her only option for obtaining documentation is for her mother to apply for a “family-sponsored preference” visa. As the adult unmarried daughter of a permanent resident, she would fall under the F2B category for family-sponsored preference visas. According to the U.S. State Department’s Visa Bulletin for December 2011, processing of F2B visas is 19 years behind schedule for applicants of Mexican origin. If everything went according to plan, Victoria would be over 40 years old before she could qualify for in-state tuition in Indiana.

“This is a quota system … it’s very outdated,” Adams said. “The way that these numbers are allocated, they’re given an equal amount, per-country limit,” Adams said.

angela adams Adams

Across all family-sponsored visa categories, the countries of origin with the most significant backlogs are Mexico, India, mainland China and the Philippines. In visa category F4 – which U.S. citizens may file on behalf of their siblings – the most recent application processed for a person born in the Philippines is dated Sept. 8, 1988.

Finding a middle ground

Adams said it’s frustrating to see Victoria’s family trying so hard to follow proper channels and getting no results.

“The way that the law is worded, it says if you’re undocumented, you can’t get in-state tuition,” she said. “There are no exceptions – no exceptions. I think we should have exceptions written into that law, and I would like to see some at some point.” Adams said 12 states give in-state tuition if a person has been in the state for a designated period of time and graduated from a state high school.

Adams believes that immigration reform has focused too heavily on enforcement.

“Enforcement is a piece of the puzzle, but we can’t solve this problem with enforcement alone,” she said. If the United States tailored its approach to immigration, she said it could identify ways to bolster its economy and to use the potential of students who have already lived here most of their lives and want to contribute to society.

“Some people think it’s right to punish the kids for the sins of their parents. Kids weren’t involved in the decision. A lot of kids have no clue that they’re undocumented until they get in high school, and their high school counselors start talking about college,” Adams said.

Asked what she would like people to know about her predicament, Victoria started to speak, then paused for a moment to regain her composure. “I guess the main thing is, a lot of people are going to blame our parents,” she said. “I know for a fact that I’m not the first in my situation … but I don’t blame my parents. I thank them. Because if we had stayed in Mexico, I would not have had an opportunity to go to college. So moving here is actually a great thing.”

Victoria doesn’t believe the public understands the human cost of laws designed to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

“It does affect lives, more than people know,” she said.•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • boohoo
    Question what kind of benefits does Mexico offer to illegal immigrants in that nation? What kind of due process and entitlements could we expect if we moved down there without proper visas and legal compliance?

    Another question do Americans have a right to expect their own government to enforce laws or just guilt trip us into spewing out more taxes? Seems like the universities are the ones really profiting from this scheme far more than any of these illegal immigrants.

    It's not their fault, its true, its the fault of a system whereby government workers ignore the law, and then perpetuate an increase in the poorest sector of the population, as a further premise for more expansion of government services. Natives dont get to even complain or we are "bigots" etc. Whatever~!

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

ADVERTISEMENT