Florida: Issuing out-of-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.

Photo credit: John Walker


Wendy Ruiz is American-born and has grown up in Florida her entire life. She graduated high school in 2010 and shortly afterward applied to Florida International University. However, a requirement for her admission was to reveal the immigration status of her parents.  Unable to disclose such information, the university automatically rejected her application. Determined to practice her right to an education, Ruiz applied to Miami Dade College. However, once again, Ruiz was asked to state her parents’ immigration status. Once again, she did not disclose. Her acceptance was not revoked but she was asked to pay out-of-state tuition, even though she had lived in Florida her entire life.  What exactly does this insinuate?

This act from both institutions (and surely others from around the country) demonstrates a blatant discriminatory act upon immigrants and the children they bear in the United States children. Though of course these institutions would never address their decision to make children of undocumented immigrants pay out-of-state tuition as such, it is evident that there is underlying tension between children of undocumented immigrants in Florida and “all other children Florida-born”.

Wendy Ruiz was denied a privilege given to Florida-born citizens due to something she could not control: the undocumented status of her parents. And though I cannot back up this idea with any evidence, I can’t help but think that perhaps this requirement was an incentive to deter children of undocumented immigrants a right to an education.  I am relieved to tell you however, that last week US District Judge K. Michael Moore declared the issue of out-of-state tuition to Florida residents unconstitutional.  Though it is fortunate that a judge stepped in on this pressing issue, it raises some red flags on the true intent behind the out-of-state tuition requirements.

The following questions were brought to mind as I pondered this issue

–  How many other children of undocumented immigrants have surrendered their right to an education because they were unwilling to risk the chance of their parents’ immigration status being disclosed?

– Doesn’t the United States pride itself on the American Dream? If so, wouldn’t it be in the United States’ best interest to provide all children with the opportunity to a higher education, regardless of their parents’ immigration status?

– What has this meant for these children of undocumented immigrants seeking an education after high school? Have they surrendered their right to an education?

To read the full article on CNN, click here.

2 responses to “Florida: Issuing out-of-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants.

  1. Children of undocumented immigrants certainly are shown to be far less educated, and there are various factors that play into this frightning revelation; however, state and federal policies are making it even more difficult for children of undocumented immigrants to recieve an education.

    The simple fact that children of undocumented immigrants have parents who were deprived of an adequate education, hampers their academic sccess. In fact, nearly a third of children of immigrants have parents with less than a high school education, as compared with 8 percent for the native population. Over half of their parents are not fluent in English, which greatly constrains their ability to help their children with homework, support them in school, and communicate with teachers.

    First of all, denying any child the opportunity is uunconstitutional, a violation to the Fourteenth Amendment that grants everyone protection from the government and to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act ensuring everyone the ability to recieve services funded by the government, including an education. Second of all, children of undocumented children who are U.S.-born citizens are entitled to the same rights as any other U.S.-born citizen. Therefore, they shouldn’t be charged out-of-state tuition simply because their parents made the choice to come to this country, usually in a search for a better life for their family.

    Charging out-of-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants is a policy very much mirroring the limiting Jim Crow Laws prior to the Civil rights movement, because most of these children are not finacially-equiped to afford these extra charges. Children of immigrants are much more likely to be low-income than native-born children. In 2000, over half of children of immigrants were in low-income families (that is, families with annual income below twice the poverty line), in comparison to 36% for native-born children. This rate seems to be increasing because in 1980 only 40% were in a low-income family. Most children of immigrants cannot afford an education because their of their family’s low economic status, and the out-of-state tuition rates make it even more difficult.
    Considering America’s immigration history, it is fair to say that children of immigrants play a funtamental role in the future of this nation. A great percentage of today’s youth have some sort of immigrant history in their family-tree anecdotes. Tomorrow’s future relies on todays’s youth; therofore, to see progession of the nation each and every one of them needs to be provided with the best resources and opportunities in reach.

    To read the study follow this link:

    Click to access Burk.pdf

  2. Children of undocumented workers should not be denied the liberties promised by the 14th amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Since these state colleges receive federal funding, they are not allowed to discriminate under Title VI; also, the 14th amendment gives these undocumented students a right to an education. I just hope these conditions change for the better soon, for a lot of my friends who were undocumented were forced to return to their home countries due to a lack of federal aid given.

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