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In Tuition Aid Rules, Immigration Debate Meets Reality

As the immigration debate continues to evolve, some states are denying children of undocumented immigrants government grants and tuition loans offered to low-income students to help pay for college. Lee Hochberg reports on how undocumented students are coping.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Amid the national debate over illegal immigration is another debate over their children.

    Lee Hochberg of Oregon Public Broadcasting has our report.

  • MAN:

    Think of the Statue of Liberty and what it says on there and that beacon, and what it means.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    The immigration debate is more than just a school exercise for 17-year-old Jesus Lopez. He and a few others in this 12th grade Seattle classroom were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Now they're not eligible for the government grants and tuition loans that their low-income classmates can receive.

    Lopez, a school leader with an A average, doesn't think that's fair.

  • JESUS LOPEZ, High School Senior:

    The kids were brought here not knowing. Their parents choose the decision for them. So, it's like they're paying because of what their parents decided to do.

    We are all here and we're all spending time together and we're all sharing the same room. I don't see why you should have privileges more than I do.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    Seventy-five thousand undocumented students will graduate U.S. high schools this year, but only a tiny fraction will go on to college.

    Lopez fears not being able to get a loan will hold him back, too.

  • JESUS LOPEZ:

    I have been dreaming to have a profession. I got really interested in computers. I like to tear them apart, put them back. But we will see how it goes.

  • GABE OSARIO, High School Senior:

    I want to be a writer. And I want to go to college and I want to be able to write well.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    Gabe Osario also worries about the money. She was 2 when she crossed the border with her father. Fifteen years later, she has a 3.9 grade average and imagines attending the University of Washington.

  • GABE OSARIO:

    I want to use that to make something out of myself and make my parents proud.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    Classmates empathized with them, but the class discussion brought out dissent. Adante Melton was concerned…