Fast Focus: 'Do you support the state's immigration education fund?' Funds are scarce

February 16, 2014 

I do not support the state's immigration education fund. The immigration education fund as now constituted is a classic case of rewarding immigrants; legal or not, with state taxpayer dollars at a time when such dollars are harder and harder to come by. In addition, there are more than 32,000 students on the waiting list as of last year.

Efforts are under way by State Sen. Holmquist Newbry to amend the so called "Real Hope" Act to eliminate the growing issue of legal immigrant students competing with illegal immigrant students for the same scarce dollars. The amendment would give legal immigrants first priority, as it should have always been.

And there is growing evidence that the program dollars are not well utilized. Many college classes taken with the program funds are for remedial reading, writing and math -- classes that were offered for free at the high school level.

As to the case of equal opportunity, scholarship opportunities abound for the truly bright and gifted, regardless of nationality, financial resources, immigrant status or even legal citizenship status. Just ask any student who has scored a 32 or higher composite score on the ACT. Colleges all over the country send you letters with offers from reduced tuition to full ride scholarships, especially at an ACT score of 34-36.

It's particularly frustrating when students who are not immigrants -- whose parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents have paid taxes in the U.S. for generations -- still don't qualify for any of this kind of financial aid that goes to others, based mostly on immigration status and nationality.

-- MICHAEL SCRIMSHER, Burbank

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