"Are You Legal or Illegal?"


Yes, State Superintendent Randy Dorn, visiting Raisbeck Aviation High School this week, said to a student, "Now I'll ask you under my breath, are you legal or illegal?" after the student said he had gone to school in Mexico for part of his schooling.

Superintendent Dorn is not a bad guy and, according to the Times article, Ricardo Sanchez, a member of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic affairs, says Dorn has worked to help get financial aid for undocumented students seeking higher education.

But really, kind of tone-deaf (and it came out worse because he chuckled as he said it.)  Dorn has sought out the student to apologize.

There was another interesting story this week regarding undocumented students and high school graduation.  From the New York Times, "2 Valedictorians in Texas Declare Undocumented Status, and Outrage Ensues."
When Mayte Lara Ibarra, the valedictorian of her high school’s graduating class, revealed her plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin on a scholarship, she did what any graduate would do: She shared her excitement on social media.

Ms. Ibarra also declared, proudly, that she is undocumented.

“Valedictorian, 4.5GPA, full tuition paid for at UT, 13 cords/medals, nice legs, oh and I’m undocumented,” Ms. Ibarra wrote in a tweet posted last week, hours after she gave her valedictory speech to fellow graduates at David Crockett High School in Austin.
 Texas, not exactly known for great public education, has this on its side:
Gary Susswein, a spokesman for the University of Texas, said that federal law prevented him from discussing the cases of individual students, but he offered a statement that said that the university grants two-semester tuition waivers to all valedictorians of Texas public high schools regardless of their residency status.

“State law also does not distinguish between documented and undocumented graduates of Texas high schools in admissions and financial aid decisions,” the statement said. “University policies reflect that law.”
There's yet another undocumented student, from Chile, again, at the top of her class who got a full ride scholarship to Harvard.  From Fusion:
Diaz’s immediate future very much hangs on the fate of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action.

DACA doesn’t grant legal status, but it allows young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. when they were younger than 16 years old and have been here since before 2010 to access work authorizations, and in some states get drivers licenses and social security numbers. So far, 1.3 million young people have been granted deferred action under the program.
In the meantime, the Supreme Court is considering a case brought against President Obama by 26 states challenging his executive order in 2014 that established the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program.
Now Libertarians would probably (maybe) shrug and say, "Look, whoever is at the top of their class is bright and we want all those kids to go to college."  Because, after all, they are very likely to be a benefit to society and to the economy.  (Not to mention role models to other kids.)

From the Libertarian website:
Crossing an international border to support your family and pursue dreams of a better life is not an inherently criminal act like rape or robbery. If it were, then most of us descend from criminals. As the people of Texas know well, the large majority of illegal immigrants are not bad people. They are people who value family, faith and hard work trying to live within a bad system.

For those workers already in the United States illegally, we can avoid "amnesty" and still offer a pathway out of the underground economy. Newly legalized workers can be assessed fines and back taxes and serve probation befitting the misdemeanor they've committed. They can be required to take their place at the back of the line should they eventually apply for permanent residency.
You'll remember that Donald Trump chose immigration as his first policy salvo.  I don't think that was  a shoot-from-the-hip action.  I think he and his advisors focus-group tested which issue would attract attention AND draw in the most followers.  It wasn't ISIS or guns - it was people who are not in this country legally. 

As someone who grew up in a border state, right on the border (less than a mile), I certainly see (and have lived) both sides, especially from that border state perspective.  But the idea that all these millions of people are criminals, came here to commit more crimes (bringing their children along with them) and that they take millions of American jobs is just ridiculous.

I'm not sure I understand punishing kids for what their parents did.

From the Fusion article:
That uncertainty is particularly hard on young people between the ages of 18–25. At that stage in life, it’s important for people have a sense that their goals and ambitions are actually attainable, Dr. Sita Patel, a psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University who specializes in working with young immigrants, told me. And despite being extremely driven and hard-working, the reality for students like Diaz and Amarillas is that the trajectories of their lives are to some extent out of their hands.

“One of the things that’s really important in that age range is ambition, and having goals, and being able to pursue them,” she said. “For kids who are undocumented that’s certainly relevant in terms of what you can hope for, and that depression that can come along with feeling like you can’t have ambition.”
This is certainly true for ALL children. You want them to have goals and even be ambitious but most of all, you want them to have hope for a decent future and a pathway to get there.  


mirmac1 said…
This reminds me when my mother and I were returning from the 86 Vancouver Expo with a Stanford Alumni group. Of ALL the people on the bus at the border, we were the only ones challenged (despite some strong British accents, among others among the travelers). I offered up my Nordstrom's card as proof of my capitalist cred. I was righteously angry. Why were we profiled as illegals or possible "undesirables". Some on the bus were whispering to me to back down but I was PISSED off! That experience further drove home to me the unequal treatment that those with darker skin experience in our "melting pot" society.
Anonymous said…
Why is everything about you? Who cares where you went to school! You should be more concerned about alcoholism in SPS.

--Step B.
Josh Hayes said…
The biggest problem I've seen with my undocumented students is that they and their families are often reluctant to seek out support organizations, or even use them when you hook them up, because they don't want to be on anyone's radar. Understandably. As a teacher, of course I don't ask, and I don't want to know except inasmuch as I can ease students' worries: my classroom is a safe place. Period.
Anonymous said…
You're joking about Texas right?
Does a SPS high school even appear in top 100 rankings?

- go dallas

Go Dallas, that's a couple of schools. Overall, not so great and their Supreme Court just agreed they don't fully fund public ed in Texas but, unlike other states' courts, they have refused to intervene.

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