DMI Blog

Cristina Jimenez

A Victory for Immigrant Families in Wisconsin

The Obama administration's failure to deliver real change for our immigration laws (just take a look at the out-of-control detention system), has not stopped states from enacting proactive policies to improve the lives of immigrant families.

Last week, Wisconsin took a practical step towards integrating immigrant families into the state's economy. Governor Jim Doyle signed into law a the 2009-2011 biennial state budget which includes a provision that would allow undocumented students who have lived in Wisconsin at least 3 years prior to graduating from high school or obtaining a GED to pay in-state tuition rates within the University of Wisconsin system. This makes Wisconsin the 11th state to offer in-state tuition for undocumented students, following Texas, Oklahoma, New York, California, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Illinois, New Mexico and Washington.

An estimated 400-600 undocumented students graduate from Wisconsin high schools each year. Without in-state tuition rates, most of these students are unable to attend college because they cannot apply for scholarships or financial aid. The new bill will not only allow them to pursue higher education, but serve as an incentive to finish high school. Janet, an undocumented student from Madison, says:

I have always wanted to go to the University of Wisconsin- Madison, and I have the grades to get in, but with no access to loans I could not afford to pay the out of state rates to attend. With in state tuition rates, I can finally make it. It's overwhelming, I feel like I can finally follow my dreams.

Improving access to higher education for immigrant students benefits immigrant families, the state's economy, and our nation's future. Wisconsin did its part. The President and Congress can take action by passing the DREAM Act this year. An educated population will increase productivity, strengthen our economy, and help us compete in the global economy.

Cristina Jimenez: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 2:57 PM, Jul 07, 2009 in Education | Immigration
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