We are human: MEChA and CAUSA’s response to the AB540 controversy


Megan Magers’ uninformed and misguided article titled “Starve the Beast.” Magers’ discourse is racist and violent, especially as she asks, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” It seems to be the case that Magers has forgotten about the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery or the declaration of human rights. In response, we, the students of MEChA and CAUSA, remind Magers that this is the country where the 14th Amendement states that we are all equal before the law. Your characterization of immigrants as animals, “the beast” and “the cow,” define your racism. Since California State University, Northridge is one of the most diverse university campuses in the United States, your piece is an insult to your peers.

We take this opportunity to clarify the following:
1. The fact that the California Supreme Court is reviewing the lawsuit challenging AB 540 is evidence that taking away access to education for these 25,000 undocumented and documented students who meet the specific requirements of having attended high school in California and having arrived to the United States prior to the age of 15 is, in fact, unconstitutional.
2. AB 540 is not financial aid. In fact, residents and U.S. citizens are entitled to financial aid, while AB 540 students, in spite of having lived in the United States since they were minors of 15 or younger, do not qualify for financial aid. What AB 540 does is serve as a beacon of hope to those students who want nothing more than to one day be as educated as any U.S. citizen. In addition, these students have grown up in California and, as a result, they are not recently arrived immigrants nor are they international students.
3. Magers states that AB 540 would consider “allowing individuals, who do not legally reside here, access to higher education at a lower price than some U.S. citizens,” and that is incorrect as well. It would provide them equal access to education, while it would not allow them access to financial aid.
4. Magers is incorrect about human rights as well: These students deserve access to higher education, because access to education is not a privilege, it is a right.
5. U.S. citizens and legal residents are facing financial burdens not because AB 540 students have access to education, but because of the lack of commitment on the part of legislators for education. Instead, public funds are invested in prisons, law enforcement, and other programs, but not on education, which is mining our future perspectives.
6. Undocumented immigrants make enormous contributions to our country and our state. If we ban undocumented youths access to education, we, as a society, will pay the consequences because we will miss these young adults’ future contributions to society, including their increased ability to pay taxes, to give back, and to become flourishing members of our communities.
7. Magers is also incorrect in stating that undocumented students have “consciously chosen to decide not to participate in the processes that would grant them legal residency in this country.” In fact, students who qualify for AB 540 are students who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as minors. In most of the cases it was not a decision made on their own accord and it was definitely not made as legal adults. In addition, it is a requirement for their participation in the AB 540 program to process their application to become legal U.S. citizens.
8. Being part of AB 540 does not offer these students a “U.S. citizen’s lifestyle” as Magers states. This demonstrates her ignorance about the situation of AB 540 students, who are entitled to study but not to work, who are not granted rights as U.S. citizens, and have no access to financial aid, insurance, participation in the electoral process, or access to a passport, among other things.
9. Magers’ numbers are also incorrect. U.S. citizens, regardless of where they were born, who reside in California for at least one year and one day prior to starting the semester qualify as legal residents. AB 540 students have resided in California since at least the time when they were 15 years old; because of that, it is only fair that they have access to higher education and be allowed to pay in-state tuition.
10. Finally, AB 540 students are not criminals. Stop lying Mager.

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