A new test that no student would dread — one that leads to citizenship
Why we should honor undocumented students’ hard work with a pathway to citizenship
n you imagine how much louder the families of undocumented students would cheer if their graduates became citizens at their graduation ceremonies? With a diploma and shiny new passport in hand, they could declare that not only could they apply for college, they had also earned the right to stay in the country of their schooling.
For an estimated 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year, though, it’s hard to be that enthusiastic. Those who cannot show proof of citizenship or an active visa are not eligible for federal financial aid, which many undocumented students need in order to afford college. And without citizenship, the threat of deportation looms.
“It would be wonderful to get a diploma and citizenship,” said Cleveland Cordova, 16, in his native Spanish, responding to a growing movement to increase the routes to citizenship. He is a member of the Latino education advocacy group Nuestra Voz and a student at Cohen College Prep in New Orleans. Students need access to quality high schools, citizenship and real pathways to gainful employment, he added.
If President Donald Trump is serious about strengthening the country from within as his “America first” rhetoric conveys, he should grant citizenship to members of our communities who by graduating high school have substantively fulfilled U.S. naturalization requirements. This rite of passage is also a natural path to citizenship and Trump would do well to recognize that.
Join the conversation later on Andre Perry’s radio show, “Free College,” hosted Tuesdays onWBOK1230 in New Orleans at 3pm Central/4pm Eastern 504.260.9265.
I had a pretty hard time relating to my students eight years ago, when I began teaching fifth-grade special education in a “self-contained” classroom in the East Tremont neighborhood of the Bronx. These students had a hard time