Monday, January 5, 2009

In-State Tuition Challenged Before California Court

An immigration issue around the country has been allowing undocumented students that have graduated from state high schools -- U.S. law requires states to educate the undocumented -- to enroll in state university and colleges paying the in-state rate. This is substantially cheaper than what is required of out-of-state students. The rationale is that the skills and talents of students educated by the state should not be squandered, but encouraged. The argument against is simply it's not fair to real American students. Forget that many of the students were brought here as children and that they are not eligible for student aid or loans from the federal government. Now the constitutionality of the state law is being challenged in the California State Supreme Court. A decision would impact thousands of students, perhaps making a college education unaffordable for them. The issue is controverted in many other states, so that an adverse decision could be a fatal blow to providing the benefit. (See LA Times article.)

Good-bye Smugglers Gulch

The historic Smuggler's Gulch lies just east of the Pacific Ocean between Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, California. Padre Junipero Serra is believed to have passed through it on his way to the San Diego Mission. But as its name suggests, the gulch has been made famous for other reasons -- usually to avoid Mexican or U.S. customs. First it was used to move cattle illegally across the border, then booze and cigars. By the 1980s it was undocumented migrants. The gulch also gained a reputation for preying on the migrants -- robbing , raping or murdering them or more benignly asking a toll for passage. Plans have long been readied to fill the gulch, but conservationists and environmentalists has held up work by court order. Now those restraints have been lifted and work has begun. By May there will be no more Smuggler's Gulch, only a double fence. (See LA Times article.)

New Secretary of Labor

The choice of the new Secretary of Labor has pleased the New York Times . In an editorial it praised her long record as an advocate for the immigrants -- her parents being immigrants. But it noted also her strong support of workers' rights. The Times sees this as important for immigration reform. A path to citizenship is not the only immigration issue. There also is the issue of exploiting a fearful immigrant workforce by unscrupulous employers. The Kosher meatpacking firm in Postville, Ia, is now in trouble more because of its unfair and exploitative practices towards workers than for its immigration violations.

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