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There’s been a lot of cheering today for the news that Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick plans to direct public colleges in the state to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition, but a peek at the fine print shows that the policy shift isn’t anywhere near what it could be.

The policy covers undocumented Massachusetts residents eligible for temporary immunity from deportation under the Obama administration’s new DREAM-Act-like policy, but there’s a catch. Actually two.

First, in order to qualify for in-state tuition, you have to have made your way through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) hoops and been granted the reprieve from deportation it provides. That means that if you’ve got qualms about coming forward, or you’re having trouble proving eligibility, or are stuck in the bureaucracy for some other reason, you’re out of luck.

Second, and more importantly, the program only covers DACA-eligible students. So if you’re over thirty, you don’t qualify — even if you’ve lived in Massachusetts for twenty years. If you came to the US after your 18th birthday, or you’ve got the wrong kind of criminal record, or you don’t have (or can’t prove) the uninterrupted presence in the country that DACA requires, you’ll continue be treated as an out-of-state student for tuition purposes.

And it’s important to note that there’s no reason for Massachusetts to be limiting in-state tuition this way. A number of other states have taken the more reasonable approach of applying residency rules to all students equally, no matter what their immigration status. Just this month, in fact, Maryland took that step by statewide referendum.

If you’ve been in state long enough to obtain residency, you’ve been a state resident long enough to get in-state tuition. That’s a simple, straightforward principle, and it should be the one that pertains in Massachusetts.

It’s a shame Deval Patrick doesn’t see it that way.

Many undocumented immigrants eligible for a reprieve from deportation under the Obama administration’s DREAM Act-inspired policy shift are choosing not to apply because of fears of their applications being used against them if Mitt Romney wins the presidency.

In June President Obama announced that he would be establishing a process by which those young people who would be eligible for permanent residency and eventual citizenship under the DREAM Act — those brought to the US by the age of 15 who completed two years of college or enlisted in the military — could apply for a pre-emptive deferral of deportation proceedings. The policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), took effect in August.

The administration’s shift followed directly on the mounting of a series of increasingly high profile occupations of Obama campaign offices by DREAM Act-eligible activists.

Romney has pledged to end the DACA policy, but says he will honor any reprieves from deportation already approved when he takes office. Given the program’s complex documentation requirements and high fees, however — and the glacial pace of government bureaucracy — many DACA-eligible young people are hanging back, afraid that an incomplete application could give the government ammunition to use against them in the future.

Only seven percent of the nation’s estimated 1.2 million eligible immigrants applied for DACA in its first month, and though that number has since doubled, only a tiny fraction of applications have so far been processed. Of 180,000 applications submitted so far, only 4,591 have reached final approval. That’s less than three percent of applications, and 0.4 percent of the total eligible pool.

Romney has sent mixed signals on policy for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. He opposes the DREAM Act but says he’d work to give them a chance at permanent residency as part of comprehensive immigration reform. What that policy would look like, however, and how it would be implemented, remain impossible to assess.

Every year the delegates to the United States Student Association’s National Student Congress must approve the Association’s campaigns for the year — establishing priorities for what the group will work on between then and the next Congress. Voter work and federal higher ed policy are locked in as perennials by USSA’s governing documents, but everything else is up for grabs.

This year seven of thirteen proposed campaigns made it through the delegates’ first round of vetting, but in the second round attention quickly focused on just three. Two of them — student loan forgiveness and support for the DREAM Act — had been approved unanimously in the first round, and drew little criticism in the second.

The third, “Legislating Shared Governance,” was where things got interesting.

Crafted by activists from Wisconsin, a state where students have a statutory right to participate in college governance, the proposal called on the Association to craft a national analysis of “campus and statewide conditions of student rights … abuses of student rights … and prospects for reform.” It further directed USSA to devote resources to defending and expanding students’ rights in campus governance, to create organizing materials and conference workshops in aid of such campaigns, to support legal action by students in defense of their rights, and finally to

“through its member campuses and statewide student associations, conduct a campus, statewide, and national grassroots and lobbying campaign to ensure state legislatures and university administrations codify these rights in state law and university policy.”

In the second round of debate a motion was made to select the DREAM Act and loan forgiveness plans — and only them — as USSA campaigns for the coming year. The shared governance proposal was offered and rejected as a third campaign in an amendment to that motion, but as debate continued it became clear that the DREAM/loan-forgiveness combo couldn’t win the plenary’s support without it.

And so, after several hours of debate and more than a few off-the-floor negotiating sessions, the amendment was offered again, and accepted.

Why was there so much disagreement? Mostly, I think, because while USSA’s officers and staff do a lot of non-electoral organizing work (and training), the Association’s official campaigns have in recent years primarily been federal legislative advocacy projects, and this isn’t that.

But as folks from Occupy to the DREAMers to USSA’s own partner the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) have been demonstrating in recent months, there’s a lot happening around youth and student organizing right now that’s only peripherally (if at all) connected to legislative lobbying. This is a movement moment, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what USSA makes of it in the coming year.

I just posted a string of tweets, including the one above, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. EO 9066, signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, authorized the exclusion of Japanese Americans from large portions of the United States solely on the basis of their ethnicity. It led almost immediately to seizure of property, ethnic curfews, and — on May 3, 1942 — the authorization of the establishment of internment camps to house those who would be relocated from exclusion zones.

  • 70 years ago today FDR #EO9066 created the Japanese-American internment policy. 120,000 people, 2/3 of them citizens, were imprisoned.
  • The number of Japanese Americans interned without cause by FDR was greater than the population of Wichita, KS. #EO9066
  • 62% of Japanese Americans interned by FDR were US citizens. (The rest were immigrants barred from naturalization due to their race.) #EO9066
  • Americans with as little as 1/8 Japanese ancestry were interned, including orphan infants. #EO9066
  • Internment order included Americans of Taiwanese and Korean descent, since Japan occupied those countries. #EO9066
  • “A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatched.” —LA Times editorial endorsing Japanese-American internment #EO9066
  • Surviving #EO9066 internees received $20,000 compensation each in 1988. Families of internees who had died got nothing.
  • I said a few minutes ago that Americans with as little as 1/8 Japanese ancestry were interned. I was wrong. The cutoff was 1/16th. #EO9066
  • The 1944 Korematsu decision declared the Japanese-American internment constitutional. It has never been overturned. #EO9066
  • “I dissent, therefore, from this legalization of racism.” —Justice Frank Murphy dissenting in Korematsu. #EO9066
  • Justice Murphy’s Korematsu dissent was the first Supreme Court opinion ever to use the word “racism.” #EO9066
  • “military urgency…demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast.” —Korematsu, majority opinion. #EO9066
  • “Korematsu…has been convicted…merely of being present in the state…where all his life he has lived.” –Korematsu dissent. #EO9066
  • Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, CA in 1919. He was arrested in San Leandro in 1942 for being Japanese-American. #EO9066
  • In 1946 Fred Korematsu married Kathryn Pearson in Michigan. (Interracial marriage was illegal in California at the time.) #EO9066
  • Fred and Kathryn Korematsu moved back to California in 1949, the year after interracial marriage was legalized in the state. #EO9066
  • Fred Korematsu’s conviction was set aside in 1983. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. He died in 2005. #EO9066
  • Two years before his death Korematsu filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court arguing for legal rights for Guantanamo detainees. #EO9066
  • Survivors of the Japanese-American internment camps include George Takei, Norman Mineta, Isamu Noguchi, and Pat Morita. #EO9066
  • Los Angeles internees were housed in stables at the Santa Anita racetrack while awaiting relocation. #EO9066
  • George Takei’s first schooling was under the grandstands at Santa Anita while his family was interned in a stable. #EO9066
  • “We gave the fancy name of ‘relocation centers’ to these dust bowls, but they were concentration camps nonetheless.” –Harold Ickes. #EO9066

Norway held its first elections since the Utoya massacre Monday, and the results show a repudiation of the views — and the party — of the man responsible for the carnage.

It’s been seven weeks since anti-immigration zealot Anders Breivik murdered sixty-nine people at a Labor Party youth retreat on the island of Utoya. Yesterday’s results showed 33.2% of voters supporting Labor candidates, giving that party its best result in a municipal election in two decades. The big swing came on the right, however, as the anti-immigrant Progress Party, of which Breivik was a member until 2006, lost more than a third of its support.

With the Progress Party dropping from 18.5% to 11.8% in the polling, most of its support landed with the Conservative Party, which had been losing ground to Progress in recent years. Labor’s 3.6% jump, however, was enough to give it an overall victory.

Youth voting in Norway also took a big step forward yesterday, as twenty-one municipalities were granted permission to lower their voting age to 16 on a trial basis. More than a hundred local governments applied for permission to participate in the trial, which was offered as a first step toward allowing municipalities to reduce the voting age at their own discretion.

About This Blog

n7772graysmall is the work of Angus Johnston, a historian and advocate of American student organizing.

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