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The Case for Inclusion: Supporting the Education Equity Bill in MA

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Author: CollegeDemsOfMA

Last month, the College Democrats of Massachusetts endorsed SD. 599 and HD. 1035, otherwise known as the “Education Equity Bill.” This post, authored by the College Democrats of Massachusetts Latin@ Caucus, lays out why CDM endorsed this bill and will submit testimony, both written and in person, at this bill’s hearing on July 15th. 

Statistics do not tell our story. Our sheer numbers don’t tell you anything about our experiences. Coming from a diverse set of backgrounds, races and distinctions creates an even more diverse context in which we live and make decisions. Our sacrifices of leaving our home countries unify all of us with one similar story.

The resistance against immigrants comes from a place that lacks understanding, a place that sits on antiquated prejudices that don’t fit the reality. Most immigrants come to this country to achieve a better life. A country founded on immigrants, who have allowed the progress of this nation, has only been achieved on the backs of hard working individuals that are willing to do anything to improve the situation for their families.

The largest wave of immigration was in the early 1900s, bringing forth the lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth that this country has seen. Immigrants create new jobs by forming new businesses, buying homes and spending their incomes on American goods and services, all which contribute to the betterment of our society.

As a first-generation immigrant myself, I can testify that my family’s journey has not been easy. Both of my parents, two college-educated individuals from middle class families in Colombia, risked their fate in order for my sister and I to get a better opportunity at a worthwhile education. Risking our private education, our family in Colombia, and their own criminal records, they valiantly immigrated and gave up everything for our future. We were fortunate enough to come under the protection of my aunt, whose legality was assured and who recommended us the opportunities that allowed my sister and I to succeed.

Although the obstacles of the education system in the United States are mainly inclusion and a false meritocracy, most immigrants and their children come for an opportunity at that meritocracy. Sickeningly, our rigged education system promotes the success of the wealthy and mostly white communities at the expense of immigrants and communities of color.

The education equity bill that CDM and the Latin@ Caucus have endorsed represents an opportunity for those hard working individuals to achieve a life that they dreamed of equalizing access to higher education for undocumented immigrants. I’m fortunate that after being undocumented for a couple of years, my circumstances allowed my family to push through towards citizenship. However, there are 11 million immigrants and their families whose fate was not the same.

Before you shut down this bill, and continue to shut it down with antiquated prejudices, understand that this measure would grant those undocumented students who have attended Massachusetts high schools for more than three years the opportunity to get financial aid and also in-state tuition at public universities and colleges. This would directly contradict one of the biggest myths is that immigrants are highly uneducated and are not bringing positive contributions to American society. By supporting this bill, by vocalizing the importance of this bill, it’s your turn to stand up with those have not been fortunate enough to find their path to citizenship.

If an immigrant has proven himself or herself enough to get accepted into college, that itself has proven that they are worthy to fully join our society. All other myths about undocumented individuals aside, the reality is that by giving them the opportunity to an education, you are giving your country an opportunity to succeed. You are giving those individuals the opportunity to allow themselves to honor their families, their sacrifices, their home country, and their newly-found American home as a valuable member of society.

By giving those who have proven themselves in Massachusetts high schools the opportunity to thrive at Massachusetts colleges, we allow bright minds to flourish and we promote the economy of this country. I urge you all to sign the petition that the Student Immigrant Movement has created here and to join us on July 15th at the hearing of this bill to fight for the future of this state. Without us, the United States would not be anywhere; let us continue the legacy of positive contributions, and continue to give back to the country that has given us hope.

Please contact the Chair Santiago Narino at santi@collegedemsma.org for more information.

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