Stockton, CA — Students at San Joaquin Delta College and University of the Pacific gathered to speak their “truth” about undocumented students and the issues affecting them in the community.
Assembly Bill (AB) 540 passed in 2001; the law allows qualified students to attend college and pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities in California.
The forum raised questions such as, “What comes to mind when you think about undocumented students, when you think about AB 540 students?” Participating students responded saying; Immigrants, survivors, Mexicans, dreamers, undocumented, fighters, leaders, activists.
One student brought up: “Lack of employment, sacrifice because we all have to sacrifice something in order to achieve our goals, living in the shadows and fearful of reveling their status,” explained student Ana Navarrete adding, “Educators —not only are we educating ourselves but we are educating others on this issue; Second Class Citizens —because we feel like citizens that grew-up here but at the same we are told ‘NO you don’t belong here’.”
The forum also discussed common myths and stereotypes often attached to AB 540 students and the undocumented community.
“AB 540 does not mean undocumented people only, it also benefits U.S residents and citizens,” explained San Joaquin Delta student and activist, Alex Buzz.
Protected under the AB 540 are also U.S. citizens and permanent residents who attended high school in California but do not have state residence.
“This is not just a Latino issue, there are Pacific Islander AB 540 students, there are European students, you hardly ever hear about them because the media is always talking about Latinos,” said Navarrete.
Unauthorized immigrants in California paid a total of $2.7 billion in local and state tax in 2010, 1.8 billion in sales tax and $735 million in property taxes, says Buzz as he referred to a report released in 2011 by the Washington-based Immigration Policy Center.
An ITN (Individual Tax Identification) number given by the IRS allows people without a social security to pay taxes, says Buzz. “All this money goes into California and United States programs and mainly to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medical and Medicare,” — programs not entitled to undocumented immigrants.
“Education should not be applied to a person gender, race, income or citizenship status says Buzz. “We all have our friends, relatives, classmates and sometimes we don’t even know that they are undocumented; all of us are intertwined in this issue.”