A bill passed by the Indiana Senate this week and headed to the Governor’s desk will restore in-state tuition to about 200 undocumented college students, some of whom are speaking out about the issue.
Fred Diego and Cristian Delgado are both juniors at Indiana University. They’re also both undocumented, the children of illegal immigrants. Diego came to the United States when he was two years old, Delgado when he was 11.
“We are a lot of Indiana’s potential,” Diego said.
In 2011, a bill took effect in Indiana that surrounded the issue of immigration. Among its changes, undocumented college students were not allowed in-state tuition.
“I wasn’t going to go to college after that,” Diego said.
Diego and Delgado were both able to get private scholarships and continue with their educations. Many of their peers dropped out, though, prompting Diego to create the website indianadreams.org.
“We hope to bring these conversations to the forefront so that we can come to an understanding,” Diego said.
The website features the faces and stories of students affected by the original bill. Diego is hoping to help others understand that undocumented students want to stay in Indiana and contribute to society and the economy.
“We are incredibly American. If you cut us we will bleed red, white and blue. We celebrate the Fourth of July just like our friends,” Diego said.
Despite this latest bill, the legislature did not take up the issue of future students’ access to in-state tuition. Immigration is a divisive issue and many in the state who supported the original bill worried about job security.
Diego and Delgado are hoping that by speaking out, they can help change the perceptions that come along with being undocumented immigrants.
“It would be a tragedy to waste all this potential simply because we don’t understand immigration,” Diego said