Shedding light on an undocumented struggle


My intent is to share with you some of the issues undocumented scholars face at the U.

In 2002, the passage of House Bill 144 provided an opportunity for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates if they attended a Utah high school for three years, had been admitted to an institution of higher learning and had filed an affidavit stating they would try to legalize their immigration status.

It is important to acknowledge that many students from the U do legalize their status.

Many students did not have a say in the decision to immigrate and the U.S. is the only country they feel allegiance to, yet they are viewed with contempt. At an institution of higher education, undocumented students have little support and many students like J.D. Bowns only serve to let them know they are unwelcome, thus creating a dangerous and hostile academic environment.

Bowns claims that your diversity scholarship encourages illegal immigration. Under H.B. 144, an estimated five to 10 undocumented students out of a student body of 28,000 attend the U. This hardly seems like a viable statistic to support his claim. Why isn’t Bowns focusing his attacks on employers who depend on unauthorized immigrant workers? U.S. citizens benefit from the exploitation of cheap laborers and cheap food prices but we are unwilling to consider why undocumented people come to the U.S. Criminalizing children and denying them access to education does not seem like an ethical way of reforming immigration laws.

There are approximately 30 scholarships specifically for students of color and underrepresented students at the U. What fails to get mentioned is that there are 3,730 scholarships that all U students are eligible for but that typically go to white students.

Miller scholars excel academically, contribute to their communities and participate in leadership and service on campus. Miller scholars earned admission before chosen for scholarship support. Their merit is not determined by their legal status. Bowns advised you to “fix (immigration) law before just handing out money.” Miller scholars know that your private donations are designated for outstanding students.

Access to education should not be framed around the immigration debate. Undocumented students receiving your scholarship need your support emotionally and publicly not just financially. Your decision to trust Stayner and the committee on choosing one undocumented student per cohort was beneficial to the entire institution. It is crucial to note that the Miller scholarship is prestigious in its own right. The Miller Scholars proudly enhance the legacy of the scholarship. This includes all scholars, documented and undocumented alike.

Tung Thantrong

2002 Miller Scholar