Undocumented ASI president and other students to be affected
The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday to preserve Assembly Bill 540, California’s state law that allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition.
This ruling will affect Associated Students, Inc. Pedro Ramirez, also undocumented, who is serving as the Fresno State ASI president without pay.
The Collegian recently received an anonymous e-mail questioning the legal status of Pedro Ramirez. Ramirez confirmed this information.
Ramirez will not be the only one to benefit from the ruling. According to the Los Angeles Times and KMPH Fox 26, AB 540 will benefit 231 Fresno Sate students and 25,000 students in California.
These students will continue to pay $2,115 per semester. If the law was repealed, undocumented students would pay out-of-state tuition, which is almost doubled.
As an AB 540 student, Ramirez cannot receive federal or state aid. Because of his legal status he cannot be employed in the United States.
Ramirez said that ASI administrators were aware that he would not be paid for the ASI position, but he willfully accepted it as a volunteer position.
There has been speculation that the university is paying Ramirez through ASI scholarships. Ramirez denied such speculation as being false. He affirmed that he signed a legal waiver stating that he would not receive payment for his position. However, he said that he received a $50 cell phone stipend two weeks ago.
Ramirez decided to take the position because he wanted to make a positive difference for students at Fresno State.
“I thought I could make a possible impact to clean up the organization and use whatever resources and power that we have to benefit the student,” Ramirez said.
“I’m going to graduate soon,” he said. “What am I going to use my degree for? And in the next few weeks they will be voting on the only hope that I have,” Ramirez said, referring to the DREAM Act.
The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act will be discussed during the lame-duck session in Congress. If passed, it will give many high school undocumented students who are qualified the option of joining the military or attending higher education and be considered eligible for legalization.
“It’s almost like a cruel joke, a cruel reality for these students when they have invested thousands of dollars that were very hard to come by because they cannot work legally in the U.S,” Cesar Sanchez said, ASI vice president of finance.
AB 540, known as the state DREAM Act, was passed into law on October 12, 2001. The bill allowed all students regardless of their legal status to pay in-state-tuition.
“I live by that law, it’s the reason why I’m here, it’s the reason not just me, but a lot of students are here,” said Ramirez about AB 540.
The lawsuit was made by 42 students and by Kris Kobach, one of the many authors behind the Arizona immigration law. The students claimed that AB 540 was violating the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibly Act, which states that undocumented individuals should not be granted rights if legal residents or citizens are not given the same right.
The students claimed that the law was unjust to the residents and citizens because out-of-state documented students had to pay more money than undocumented students who lived in California.
“For me, it’s an emotional issue,” Ramirez said. “Not a lot of people know that I am undocumented. A lot of people I go to class with…students, faculty, staff and staff administrators think I’m a normal student.”
Ramirez affirmed that he arrived in the U.S. when he was three years old and that he found out his legal status when he tried to join the military.
“But I have been hiding in the shadow, I have been hiding part of me since I was in high school,” he said. “I found out… when I was about to graduate.”
Ramirez is coordinating an event in the Free Speech Area this Friday from 11 a.m. to 1p.m. to support the DREAM ACT. He hopes to have several university officials in attendance.