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Opinion

Kids of Illegal Immigrants: Entitled to Education?

While skimming The New York Times, I came across a very interesting subject: should children of illegal immigrants be entitled to public education? Taking into consideration that elections just took place, I found it to be perfect timing to discuss something a bit more serious. This topic offended me. Having been illegal for more than half the time I have lived in the United States, it hurt me to read that citizens like me are questioning whether my past self should be allowed to have an education.

If it were not for the fact that public schools do not require a child to prove a legal status in this country, I would not be where I am today- on my way to walk on stage with a B.S. in Chemistry, a minor in Informational Technology, and on the pursuit of my PhD in Chemistry! Could you imagine what would have become of me if I had not been allowed to attend elementary, middle, and high school? I did not gain my legal status in this country until my junior year of high school; prior to that, I woke up afraid every morning that this would be my last day as I knew it, that this would be my last day of education, that this would be last day in my road to the "American Dream."

What a beautiful thing, the "American Dream," is it not? Individuals from all over the world come to this land of freedom with hopes of the white fenced, two-floor house, the Benz in the front yard, pool in the back, and 2.5 kids.

Of course, we are all aware of the fact that this dream is not obtainable without some sort of higher education, correct? And, in order to be eligible for that higher education is it not a requirement to attend some sort of basic schooling, like high school?

Yes, people can argue that homeschool is an option and therefore this country does not owe those of illegal descent any type of public education. Let me bring you back to the black board for a second. The American Dream is more than often pursued by immigrants from less fortunate countries who find hope in this "land of the free." Now, how do you think those illegal immigrants, or legal for that matter, will work towards such dream? The parents sure won't be attending school, they will be out maintaining two and three jobs at a time to support their families and give their kids what they never had- a higher education.

Now, if the parents are out busting their behinds all day, do you think they have time to homeschool their children? Can we, also, remember to factor in the realistic assumption that these parents probably do not speak the primary language in this country? How, then, do we expect these kids to be home schooled? Sounds a bit obscure, doesn't it?

Every single individual is entitled to an education, regardless of the source, regardless of the price, and most certainly regardless of the individual's background. Where we come from does not define us or where we are going, it simply reminds us and everyone around us the obstacles we had to overcome to become the person we want to be. It is not humane nor is it just to decide for a child (a member of our future society) whether he/she can expand his/her knowledge. Our job is to provide the basics; it is up to them to decide what to do with them.

Some may argue that most of the children of illegal immigrants will only follow onto their parents' footsteps-circumstances that do not require any education. My response: "So what!" Human beings were made with an instinct of survival, in some cases that survival may be to take on a higher education, in others it may as well be to go out and buss tables, wait at corners for a day job, or clean houses until something better comes along.

That, however, does not grant us the right to take away children's ability to learn and exercise their minds the same as the rest of the world around them.

Let me end on this note: Would you like to strike out of the game without ever being given the chance to bat?

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