CU immigrant tuition equity movement benefits from ‘teach-in’

BOULDER – Roughly 100 University of Colorado-Boulder students working to secure tuition equity for the state’s undocumented teens got a boost Wednesday from professors who held a teach-in for the movement, providing historical perspective on the issue for attendees eager to strengthen their arguments.

Latin American history professor Francisco Barbosa spotlighted Great Depression-era deportations, in which half a million people of Mexican descent, including Mexican Americans, were thrown out of the country with little regard for the law.

Today’s historic recession– and special interest lobbying— has again fed nativist responses to illegal immigration, where Arizona passed the heavy enforcement immigration bill SB1070 and where state lawmakers on the right across the country are threatening to introduce similar bills, including here in Colorado.

“Through the 20th century, major sectors of the United States economy became increasingly addicted to the cheap labor that Latin American immigration provides,” said Barbosa. “But as always, during tough economic times, the nativist response have targeted the immigrants, the newcomers, and blame them for the labor shortage.”

Barbosa was joined by and Ethnic Studies professor James Aldama.

After the professors spoke, student organizers Kyle Huelsman and Hanna Johnson handed out volunteer committee sign-up sheets. Students organized themselves into committees and began formulating plans for next semester’s push to obtain support from the university board of regents. The aim specifically is to bolster support for legislation proposed in 2009 that would allow undocumented students who graduated from a Colorado high school access to in-state tuition to state universities and colleges.

The proponents of tuition equity argue that allowing undocumented students access to in-state tuition would land more of them in school and strengthen the Colorado economy by keeping motivated students from moving to surrounding states that allow them access to education.

“We have to be educated and thoughtful in our approach so we can gain general support from the students at CU,” said Huelsman. “This is a campaign to win over hearts and minds.”

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