Support the Legalization of Undocumented Students and Youth!

Editorial by Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Over the summer of 2010, undocumented students organized a series of militant sit-ins and hunger strikes in support of the DREAM act, raising the level of struggle to legalize undocumented youth who attend college or serve in the military. In March, four undocumented student marched 1500 miles from Miami, Florida, to Washington D.C. to highlight the need for Congress to pass the Dream Act. In May, another four undocumented students were arrested at the offices of Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. In June, students held a hunger strike in North Carolina to pressure Democratic Senator Kay Hagen to support the DREAM act. Then in July, 20 undocumented students from across the country were arrested in Washington, D.C. as they protested to pressure more senators to support the DREAM act.

These protests are just the most visible sign of growing organization and militancy of undocumented students and youth. In Chicago, the Immigrant Youth Justice League formed to fight for legalization and to have colleges support undocumented students. The California Dream Network is made up of organizations of undocumented students in more than 30 community colleges, state universities and University of California campuses. Student from Florida, New York, Michigan, Arizona, Missouri, Kansas and other states have participated in the national actions to highlight the struggle of undocumented students.

The Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) welcomes and supports these students who are fighting for legalization. We believe that the partial legalization of students and youth would be a victory for the immigrant rights movement and would help to energize the struggle for a more general legalization of the undocumented. It is estimated that 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. They could legalize under the DREAM act.

At the same time, the FRSO opposes the military service option of the DREAM act and supports a community service alternative to college. Most undocumented high school graduates are working-class and many do not have the opportunity to go to college. At the same time more and more public colleges are cutting classes, programs and admissions while raising fees, making the dream of a college education even more distant. For these youth, the DREAM act as it stands could be a recruitment tool to get more Latino and other immigrant youth to be cannon fodder for U.S. wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don’t want the dream of legalization to become a nightmare of disability and even death. There is a need for a community service option in the DREAM act for youth who are not college bound, so that they are not forced into military service.

Along with the struggle to legalize undocumented students and youth, there is also the need to fight the anti-immigrant, right wing movement that wants to exclude undocumented students from colleges. Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor of California, is one of the more prominent right-wing politicians who have said that the undocumented don’t belong in public colleges and universities. California is one of more than ten states that grants undocumented resident students in-state tuition (but not financial aid), which could be in danger if Republicans make strong gains in the November elections. The strong defense of the gains that undocumented students have made needs to go hand-in-hand with the struggle for legalization of undocumented students and youth.