Don't Ask, Don't Tell (And don't be afraid)

No, this post is not about the United States military’s homophobic silencing of gays and lesbians in the armed forces. It pertains to the policy adopted by colleges and universities around the country that have to deal with undocumented students.

Undocumented high school students, upon graduation, are faced with limited options for higher education unless they can afford outrageous out-of-state tuition and apply to colleges that allow undocumented students. While some fellow DREAMers confirm that it is virtually impossible for them to attend college in their respective states (i.e. Florida), admission officials from several colleges have stated that they do NOT serve a police function.

By this, I mean that when you apply to higher education institutions as an undocumented student (and I can vouch for community colleges, state and UC schools in California), you are promised confidentiality and the college does not bother to alert DHS or ICE about your status. Seriously, their role is to educate (and take money from you), not serve a policing function. In a recent news article, assistant director of admissions at Boise State University has stated that “We take all students at their word. That they are providing us with the truth. For admission, a student would not be caught. We don’t research. We don’t ask for documentation and such.” Just take a look at this powerpoint slide developed at the 2007 Counselor Conference of the University of California university system called “Assisting Undocumented Students in Higher Education.”

It is best to call and ask schools about their policies regarding undocumented students. On application forms, I have noticed a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” procedure – Do not offer yourself up as an undocumented student unless the school contacts you about your status, mostly to ascertain residency for tuition purposes. Fill out the required residency forms with complete honesty. Unlike the military, you will not be banned from higher education for being “out.”

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