In Arizona, immigration law worries minority students

Educators in Arizona are expressing concern that the state's controversial identity-check law will discourage students of color from attending the state's colleges and universities. Many educators fear that the law -- which the federal government has sued to block -- may exacerbate a trend documented in a recent report to Congress, which found that escalating costs are putting higher education and minority college grants beyond the reach of more and more low-income minority students.

In a letter to the university community in April, University of Arizona President Robert N. Shelton wrote that "large numbers of UA students, faculty, staff and appointed professionals have expressed concerns that they or members of their families or their friends may now be subject to unwarranted detainment by police."
Shelton also noted that some out of state students had decided not to attend the university because of the new law, which allows police to demand proof of citizenship or legal residency status from individuals who police have reason to think might be in the country illegally. Noting the large number of non-citizens in the university community, Shelton wrote: "Foreign students who have come to study at American universities are responsible for huge portions of the gains this nation has made in technology, medicine, materials, and so many other academic areas critical to our nation's defense and economic prosperity. We must do everything possible to ensure that these students continue to feel welcomed and respected, despite the unmistakably negative message that this bill sends to many of them."

About a dozen students have said they will not attend the university because of the new state law, university spokeswoman Jennifer Fitzenberger told WalletPop.

Meanwhile, organizations such as the Mexican American Legal Fund Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which provides minority college grants and scholarships to and defends minority students has also filed a lawsuit against SB 1070. MALDEF manages scholarships and minority college grants, including the League of United Latin American Citizens award, the Salvadoran-American Leadership & Educational Fund, and the Geraldo Rivera Scholarship Program of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

For students willing to brave the new law, there is a good number of minority college grants specific to Arizona, found at Included among these minority college grants are the Early Graduation Scholarship Grant, The Helios Scholarships, and the Post-secondary Education Grant.

And for more information about minority college grants and other assistance, see:
  • The Online Education Database lists more minority college grants and offers sage advice. The list includes the Gilbert Rios Memorial Award, the Koniag Education Career Development Grant, and the Osage Higher Education Grant.
  • How minority college grants work at The list of minority college grants includes federal grants that are "essential tools for minority students ans well as tips for locating specific minority grants."
  • The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute provides assistance to Latino college students and also provides financial assistance for minority college grants.
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