I have recently been working with an undocumented student who is a junior in high school by helping him build his organizational skills, helping him with his homework, and pushing him to advance his writing skills. I was able to meet him through an organization I am involved with called GANAS, which reaches out to the migrant population that work on the dairy farms here in Vermont. Something that I’ve realized through talking with him, and as I noticed his increasing lack of interest, was the daunting idea of getting an education after high school with an overwhelming number of barriers to get across to get there, and having no idea what to do with that education. Many of the articles that I’ve read, some of which tend to be studies done on undocumented students – including interviews, talk about the reality that many students choose to get jobs right after high school instead of pursuing a post-secondary education, because a college degree would be useless considering the workplace they wish to get into probably won’t hire anyone who is not listed as a citizen.
Right now, there are counselors and programs that alleviate some of the burdens that these students face, whether that is done through helping them navigate through college, navigate through the application process of getting into college, or providing other informative ways on what that student’s best options are. However, I think that it is time to start implementing long term changes within state policies to help these students receive a higher education, including equal access to opportunities that their citizen-peers might have that they don’t because of the title “undocumented student”. I believe that these steps would be crucial in changing how our country views undocumented students both during and after school. The involvement of college/university administrations in asserting agency on these issues and policies within their states would be an easy yet critical move towards making changes within their states – as discussed on page 40 of the article. These are steps and ideas that I plan to dig deep into these next couple of weeks, so that I can hopefully piece together a potential “plan”, through my paper, that my own college state of Vermont can do to move towards making these changes in policy. I will also continue to blog my progress on this paper and would love feedback or suggestions.
Johnson, Ane Turner, and Steven M. Janosik. "A public policy morass." Public higher education and undocumented students 84.1 (2008): 32-41. Education database. Web. 10 Jan. 2017.
-- Joaquin Contreras