Virginia colleges require parents’ visa status for students’ admittance

Mia Luckett | Contributing Writer

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Flickr User: Benuski

Quetzali Cruz is a high school senior with a 4.03 GPA, working toward an international baccalaureate diploma. One would think these accolades would be enough to receive benefits from the state’s second oldest institution, William & Mary.

Although Cruz’s transcript proved she was a Virginia citizen, when William and Mary officials asked for the visa status of her parents, Cruz was denied in-state tuition.

Colleges in Virginia such as William & Mary, Christopher Newport and Old Dominion have required students to provide their parents’ immigration papers in the admissions application process.

Students at Hampton find these practices of neighboring Virginia universities to be unfair. Sophomore Mecca Gladney voiced her frustration with the legislation.

“This legislation is problematic because it holds students, who want to further their education, accountable for issues that they have no control over,” Gladney said.

“A lot of children are born here, and their parents work hard to make sure their children have better lives, so denying them access to education and/or at a cheaper price for education is not fair.”

According to the Washington Post, this has been happening to students all over the state. Eric Wolf Welch, a veteran social studies teacher who runs the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) college preparation program at Cruz’s high school, said three universities – Old Dominion, Christopher Newport and William & Mary – have demanded parents’ immigration papers from his students.

HU sophomore Vashon Gordon believes that this kind of legislation promotes inequality.

“We represent ourselves. I shouldn’t have to suffer just because of the status of my parents,” Gordon said. “Just because their parents weren’t born here doesn’t make them any less or different or any less worthy of state benefits.”

Though the federal and state courts have ruled that U.S. adult citizens cannot be denied access to financial aid due to the citizen status of their parents, universities defend the policy because they claim federal and state financial aid rules automatically assume persons under 24 are dependent on their parents, and the parent must prove state citizenship for the student to qualify for in state tuition and financial aid.

Gordon disagrees, stating that this is not a good enough argument to deny students financial aid.

“A lot of students in college are not dependent on their parents,” Gordon said.

“A lot of students are first generations, and they may be on their own without their parents’ help. You can’t assume everyone’s parents are helping them out. Some people come from backgrounds with one parent, and that one parent may not be able to help them. Are the [students] really dependent?”

Representatives from William & Mary and Christopher Newport have confirmed this practice, stating that it falls within Virginia law.

Hampton students find that Virginia schools have just begun to enforce this legislation because of the influence of the current administration.

“According to the United States president, there are many “issues” with people being in the country illegally, and although this may be true, children should not be punished for their parents’ actions,” Gladney said.

Sophomore Lakiylah Mitchell also believes Virginia schools must enforce these legislations because of the power the administrative holds.

“I really would say the current presidency because he has enacted a lot of laws against immigrants particularly, however Virginia is not supportive of the presidency, as can be evident through our votes,” Mitchell said.

“The state is very democratic and not supportive of his laws. However, he is still a person in power, and we have no choice but to go along with him. But it’s not OK.”

Florida, New Jersey, South Carolina and the District of Columbia have all been sued for the same practice, ruling it unconstitutional in every court case.

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