Regardless of your opinion on immigration, we can all agree it’s a disappointment when finances prevent an intelligent person from obtaining an education. And 17-year-old Gladys Castro of Fontana, California, is intelligent: the senior has a 4.09 average at Kaiser High School, where she took Advanced Placement classes, led the Advanced Biology Club and was a member of the National Honor Society.
But Gladys is an illegal immigrant whose family left Jalisco, Mexico, when she was 8 years old, after two of her relatives were kidnapped and murdered. She will graduate from high school soon and has been accepted to U.C. Berkeley, where she hopes to study political science. Due to her illegal status, however, Gladys cannot apply for government student loans.Those who are strict about illegal immigration say Gladys has already generously benefited from the American education system. Robert Rector, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, told the Contra Costa Times, “California has already dumped $100,000 in free education [on Gladys].” He added, “They need to go back where they came from. That girl would do quite well in Mexico. It’s not like consigning her to hell.”
Well, yes, he has a point: Mexico has colleges, too. But Castro has lived in America for nine years and her entire life is here. It seems heartless to make her leave instead of giving her an opportunity to study at one of the nation’s top schools.
Castro — as well as immigration reform activists — is a supporter of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which is currently under debate in Congress. The DREAM Act would give six years of conditional legal status to illegal immigrants under age 16 who have been in the country for more than five years (presumably brought by their parents as children) and graduated from high school. Under the DREAM Act, students can become permanent residents by graduating from a two-year college, studying for at least two years for a bachelor’s degree or serving in the military for at least two years.
But barring passage of the DREAM Act, Gladys is attending community college and appealing to a higher authority: She is an evangelical Christian. Castro told the Contra Costa Times she has been praying to God to help her afford an American university’s price tag.
Pardon me for being a bleeding-heart liberal, but I’ve never appreciated my tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt more. [Contra Costa Times]