Immigration law affects Indiana students

Photo from IUPUI Multicultural Success Center homepage

By Leah Johnson and Katie Kutsko

5 Rights | Editor-in-Chief and staff writer

College students should be ready for a change next month.

On July 1, House Bill 1402, a bill passed in the Indiana legislature this year, becomes effective. On the date, all undocumented students become ineligible for in-state tuition rates, scholarships, grants or other aid funded through the university.

The change could mean less diversity on campus, an interruption in student relationships and a denial of an education that many have worked toward their entire lives. Some Hoosiers, however, support the law, saying that illegal immigrants should become legal.

One local university already has started their preparing their students for the new immigration law. IUPUI notified students that they will be required to verify citizenship for fall 2011 enrollment. If citizenship can not be confirmed, state aid will be denied.

“It is unfortunate that students won’t be getting financial aid,” said Danielle Wilson, IUPUI Tourism, Convention and Event Management major. “[Without my financial aid], I would not be in school,” Wilson, herself a citizen, sympathizes with undocumented students. “If you really want to be in school, then getting loans or seeking out loans is a sacrifice you’ll have to make. I know I’m getting financial aid, and I know it’s really important to me.”

At IUPUI, minority students account for 14.66 percent of the student population, making them the most underrepresented minority. White students account for 62 percent.

“I do think that over the long run this bill will affect levels of diversity, since many young Latinos who were brought here by their parents and are not documented are making their way through local school systems and will soon be looking for a local college to attend,” said Michael Snodgrass, associate professor of Latin American History at IUPUI. “The cost difference created by this bill will be a huge detriment to their capacity to continue their education. IUPUI already has a student population that very much over-represents the region’s white suburban population versus the city’s people of color.”

Others say that legal immigration is possible.

“I feel that people should come here legally,” said Betty Caputo, a McCordsville resident. “I was an immigrant myself, and I did it legally. I took the time to do the paper work and everything. I have no problem with anyone who’s here illegally, but I think that’s the way it should be done.”

Voices from both sides of the debate are in agreement on one fact. Indiana’s immigration legislation needs to change, and so do the means by which it is accomplished.

“I think Indiana shouldn’t be taking on legislation like this when its obviously not working. And its not right for them to be denying people education, people who are trying to contribute to our communities.” said Emma Hernandez, member of the Latino Youth Collective of Indiana. “I mean, no one in this debate about immigration reform denies that reform needs to come, but there’s a way to nurture our communities and not destroy them.”

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