Undocumented Students for College: The First Comprehensive Review of Research

Undocumented Students for College: The First Comprehensive Review of Research

Students, Legal Scholars Push California Universities to Hire Undocumented Students

California high school graduates need only one more year of enrollment to become legal minors. But because undocumented students cannot show their documents to the federal government, thousands of undocumented high school students fail to become legal minors.

Since 2005, hundreds of thousands of California high school students have entered the state’s legal system through the California Dream Act—which gives them a one-year reprieve from tuition as long as they go to college and graduate—according to the California Immigrant Policy Center.

If undocumented students were to receive the same reprieve, according to a study by a team of University of California, San Diego, professor-advisees, they would be admitted to college for the first time in their lives, enroll in top universities without financial aid, and graduate in four years.

The study, “Undocumented Students for College,” which appears in the July issue of the American Political Science Review, is the first comprehensive review of research on the education of undocumented students.

“Without access to higher education, we lose a lot of the best young people,” co-author James C. Hogue, an associate professor of political science at UCSD said. “To the degree that we have access to them, to the degree that we make the law that allows them to stay in the United States, we are going to have people rise to the top who come from this very important population.”

The researchers relied on federal, state, and UC data to estimate the number of undocumented students who should be admitted to college without need to attend a university that accepts a large number of undocumented students.

“The research has been somewhat limited,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder: “This is the first rigorous study that’s been done on the education of these students.”

University of Colorado professor William E. Stuntz, a co-author of the study, said the goal of the study was “to put our own research [on this] and get everyone to think about how we can do something about it.”

“The first step is recognizing that high school attendance represents a significant barrier to college and graduate education for some youth, including those who are undocumented,” he said

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