Photo: Illegal Immigrant Students
In the same week that California opened up some financial aid for illegal immigrants, a new report finds that many college graduates who entered the country illegally ended up with the same low-skill jobs as their parents, despite dreams of bettering their lives.
The study, “Learning to be Illegal,” appears in the August edition of the American Sociological Review. The report’s author, Roberto G. Gonzales, interviewed 150 undocumented Latino adults ages 20 to 34 in Southern California over more than four years. All of his subjects immigrated to the U.S. before age 12.
Among the most striking conclusions: None of the 31 students Gonzales interviewed who had graduated from four-year universities or held advanced degrees were able to pursue their dream careers. Most are doing some kind of low-wage work.
“I feel as though I’ve experienced this weird psychological and legal stunted growth. I’m stuck at 16, like a clock that has stopped ticking,” said “Cory,” a study participant who attended college. “My life has not changed at all since then. Although I’m 22, I feel like a kid. I can’t do anything adults do.”
The report comes as Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing students who immigrated illegally to access private financial aid to attend the state’s public colleges. A more controversial part of California’s DREAM Act, AB 131, also would allow these students to get state aid. That bill is in the state Senate.