Commentary: So you're mad about California's tuition ruling for illegal immigrants?

The Sacramento BeeNovember 21, 2010 

I'm an illegal immigrant with a brain and dream who is headed to your state university system at the same discounted rate as a California-born kid.

It's the will of the Legislature. And, as of Monday, of the California Supreme Court, too.

You think this is an example of what's wrong with California?

Sorry. I went to your high schools for three years, got a diploma and got accepted into the University of California system.

State law says I get to pay the same tuition as California residents, which is cheaper than that of out-of-state residents.

Some high-priced lawyer from Kansas, the same guy who wrote that controversial Arizona immigration law, tried to stop me but couldn't.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in my favor on Monday, and now you're furious. You're sick of how unfair it is that I am here.

I understand. I've understood how you feel as long as I could understand anything.

But you don't know anything about me.

My dad works two jobs, the same as my mom. My older brothers and sisters had to quit school to work because we needed the money.

My family pays income tax. We pay rent. We buy groceries. We bought a car.

Don't they take sales taxes for that? We've always paid our own way, but I guess you would rather we disappear at the end of workdays – and then reappear when it's time to work again.

Hey, I've felt invisible my whole life.

You keep saying you want me to wait in line to come here? OK, but wait in line where?

It takes years to get a visa. Where am I supposed to go, exactly?

I mean, I live in the real world. I learned the language, got good grades. My high school teacher told me to aim high, and I did – the University of California.

I got into that place with my brains and nothing else. When I get there, students like me still will represent less than 1 percent of the UC system's total population.

At UC Davis, they have around 32,000 students. Do you know how many are illegal?

Probably less than 200. Yeah, that's right. Less than 200 out of 32,000.

But it's the principle of the thing, right? It's our fault the state is so screwed up.

You think we're stealing, but you know what? We can't get federal student aid. Good luck trying to get a loan from a bank. And good luck trying to make any of this right, because – deep down – you don't want to make it right.

You just want to be mad.

You need and want us here, but only if we don't get sick or go to your schools.

You want to treat me – the A-student – the same as a murderer. It was my family's idea to come here, not mine. By the time I was old enough to make my own decisions, the only thing I wanted was to get an education.

Why? To get a good career. To buy a house. To be a good citizen. You want to deport me or throw me in jail.

That's OK. I still love America – even though America sometimes hates me.

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