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New Bill Set to Give Special Help to Undocumented Immigrant Students
by Elcid Martinez Special to The Hornet

February 22, 2006

The Associated Students and the Inter Club Council sponsored Club Rush on Feb 15 in the main quad.
Joel Chavez, representative of MECHA, a Hispanic Club at FC, was announcing and informing students during Club Rush in regards to a bill that was passed in California in 2002 called AB 540.

This will bill allow out of state students to pay in-state tuition at and UC, Cal State or Community colleges.

This bill will make higher education more affordable for both out of state students who are citizens of the United States, and students who are undocumented immigrants.

According to the bill AB 540, in order to qualify a student must have attended a California high school for three years and must have graduated.

Then one must register, or be currently enrolled in a California community college, CSU or a UC, and sign a statement with the college or university stating that one will apply for legal residency as soon as they are eligible to do so.

“La raza doesn't know about the bill,” Chavez said, referring to the hispanic community that attends school here at Fullerton College.

“The financial aid office helps students a lot and they are informing students about their many options,” Chavez said.

About one third of Fullerton College’s students are Hispanic and some of these students could benefit greatly from this bill.

Some believe the bill is discriminatory, as evident in the lawsuit that was filed in Yolo County Superior Court in Woodland by lawyers representing dozens of students in California who pay out of state tuition.

The Mercury News reported that these students feel the federal law was violated because the bill only benefits undocumented immigrants, and they were not informed of their rights under federal or state law.

A 1998 federal law requires that any in state tuitions granted to illegal immigrants must be granted to all students.

However, according to the Mercury News, 70 percent of those who claim AB 540 in the UC system are citizens of the United States.

Officials and lawyers defending the public university system say that all students have the same benefits as undocumented immigrants, if they meet the requirements of AB 540.

“The UC policy is consistent with state law, which both the attorney general and the state legislature determined is not in violation of federal law,”' said Christopher Patti, an attorney representing the UC regents.

According to Rosa Perez, Chancellor at San Jose Evergreen Community College District, undocumented immigrants applying for in-state tuition have a tougher time with residency; they must be in the state three years, get a diploma, and start the process of legalizing their status.

Joel Chavez, the representative of MECHA at Fullerton College, is enthusiastic and passionate about this bill. Most importantly he wants the students to be properly informed.