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Community Colleges Face Immigration Crisis

By Krystal Yang

Since its founding (and even before that), America has struggled with the issue of
immigration. In wake of the 2016 election, immigration has become an even more politically-charged issue. With instances of undocumented and illegal immigration popping up more and more frequently in the news, President Donald Trump has made several policy promises to create tighter borders around the country in hopes of eliminating illegal immigration. Politicians refer to his policy on illegal immigration as “zero-tolerance.” How has the current immigration crisis affected the way immigrants are treated in community college? Under Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program, an estimated 800,000 immigrants were allowed to attend school and obtain work permits in America. However, the Trump administration effectively snuffed the program this year, leading immigrant families to question whether or not their children will be able to learn at community colleges. Traditionally, California community colleges strive to protect undocumented immigrants. According to New York Times reporter Scott James, around forty centers in California exist to assist undocumented students, providing financial aid and helping admit them to higher education. Because community colleges are less selective than traditional four-year institutions, many undocumented immigrants choose to study at community colleges. On the other hand, community colleges in Arizona no longer provide tuition benefits for undocumented students (this policy was implemented in April of this year). The battle over the legal status of undocumented immigrants has only heightened in the past few months, as news articles revealed how immigrant children were being forcibly detained in detention facilities, separated from their parents. The forced treatment of such young undocumented immigrants has sparked further concern about how the federal government might try to regulate the education of immigrants, especially the admittance of undocumented immigrants into community colleges.

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