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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.•

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  • 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~!

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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