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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Student Government

Senate resolution supports in-state tuition for undocumented students

The Student Government Association enacted a resolution last Wednesday reaffirming support of in-state tuition for undocumented students.

College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Sen. Guillermo Lopez and marketing junior Karla Quetzalli Perez, chairperson of the Mexican American Student Studies Organization, reaffirmed support of in-state tuition for undocumented students and called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would help students and their families.

Lopez and Perez said they were motivated by a recent controversy about a UT organization student planning a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event on the school’s campus. The two created the resolution in hopes of making sure UH’s undocumented students feel welcome on campus.

With SGA supporting Texas Senate Bill 1528, which helps certain unauthorized immigrants enroll in Texas public colleges and pay in-state tuition, students like Perez could be able to succeed in their studies knowing they have support.

“As an undocumented Cougar, the support from SGA and others at UH has given me the strength to be a strong advocate for other undocumented immigrants while motivating me to excel in my studies, since I now feel no limitations,” Perez said.

“This bill will have a positive impact in the lives of many undocumented students at UH who may be afraid to come out of the shadows or who feel disillusioned about their lack of legal status. It will provide the peer support that many of us seek and show the University’s solidarity with its undocumented students during this uncertain time for many of us.”

Lopez, who is also the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, said he supports SGA for passing the resolution.

“I am proud that the University of Houston Student Government Association (and the University’s) 40,000 students passed the resolution, reaffirming its support for SB 1528, in-state tuition for undocumented students and also calls on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform that helps our students and their families,” Lopez said.

“At this time when DREAMers, immigrants who are members of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors program, throughout the state are under attack due to publicity stunts from fringe organizations at a different university, it is important that we send a message that we are inclusive and we stand with our undocumented Cougars.”

Literature senior Christina Nguyen said she feels sympathetic for the undocumented immigrants and wonders where the documented international students stand in this.

“As highly sympathetic as I am, I find it fundamentally strange that our government is allowing undocumented immigrants to cut in line when I know too many international documented students who portray every positive American attribute and have been waiting for 10 years to finally receive their green card,” Nguyen said. “I’ve already witnessed some who have separated from their families and sent back to their home country.”

With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program leaving out many undocumented youth and immigrants who arrived after June 15, 2007, or who do not meet the age requirement of being between 15 and 31 years old on June 15, 2012, it leaves individuals vulnerable to deportation.

Fine arts alumnus Eduardo Portillo was one of the many immigrant students who almost experienced this firsthand. Portillo and his family, originally from El Salvador, had waited five years before they were able to legally move to America.

“This is a great step forward, but of course it is not enough,” Portillo said. “Family is definitely the natural and fundamental group unit of society, and if our local and governments can’t see the big picture, the future of the country is on the hands of these families as well as any other family living here for generation.

“The biggest problem is that a lot of businesses push for cheaper labor, and they have taken advantage of illegal immigration in this sense.”

Perez said he hopes that with the resolution passed, UH will be a welcoming place for students of all backgrounds.

“On a larger scale, the University of Houston will continue to demonstrate that it is welcoming of a diverse student population, regardless of a student’s lack of legal status,” Perez said.

“It opens the door for an educated conversation between UH DREAMers and students who have legal status to better understand each other.”

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