Children must pay the price for actions committed by their parents – that is the message to students from the Florida Department of Education and the Board of Governors.
Earlier this year, higher education authorities started requiring applicants who qualify for the “Bright Futures” lottery-funded scholarships to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form requires a social security number and dependent students younger than twenty-four years of age must enter their parents’ information.
The “Bright Futures” web page succinctly sums it up: “No FAFSA = No $.”
But here is the rub – some applicants are U.S. citizens and Florida residents. If they are dependents of undocumented immigrants, they were faced with the choice: “out” their parents’ immigration status or not apply for this scholarship money.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed a class-action suit in October on behalf of these applicants, arguing that Florida education officials violated their rights by treating them as illegal immigrants and non-residents because their parents are not documented.
The center’s director of education advocacy Jerri Katzerman says, “It’s an unconscionable attack on students from immigrant families that more than triples the cost of a college education.”
The difference in tuition is staggering and could mean getting--or not--a college education: At the University of Florida, residents pay $5,700 a year versus $27,936 for non-residents. At Miami Dade College, in-state tuition is $1,266 per term versus $4,524 paid by out-of-state students.
These are the most deserving Americans and Florida residents. In order to qualify for the “Bright Futures” money, students must meet rigorous requirements, including for high school graduates at least a 3.0 grade point average and up to 100 hours of community service.
A policy of punishing children by “revoking” their citizenship because of their parents’ actions also undermines American values dating back to the drafting of the constitution.
Our country’s founders protected against condemning future generations for the sins of their fathers--debts or penalties for crimes committed by parents could not be passed down to future generations.
Then there is the fourteenth amendment which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
The social impact of not educating these students is as crippling as it is far-reaching: it institutes a class of dummies among the fastest growing segment of the population, limiting its capacity to contribute to growing our economy, integrate into, and strengthen America; it allows governmental officials to unfairly single out--and victimize--American citizens; it expands the footprint of government, not by law, but by regulations.
Ultimately, this mandatory policy to secure a “Bright Futures” scholarship tarnishes Florida and America’s reputation.
Viviana Hurtado’s blog The Wise Latina Club has won "Best Politics Blogger" awards by LATISM and Blogs by Latinas. She is a regular columnist for Fox News Latino. You can follow her on twitter at: @vivianahurtado