Pedro Ramirez, the president of Fresno State University's student body, acknowledged publicly that he is an illegal immigrant after an anonymous tip Tuesday to the college newspaper, according to a report Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times. Ramirez attends the university on scholarships and pays in-state tuition. When he was elected student body president last June, he told the administration that he would serve without pay — a $9,000 stipend — because he could not lie on employment papers, the Times reported. Ramirez says he did not know that he was "illegal" until he was a senior in high school because he came here when he was 3 years old. The Times reported, "I knew my parents were from Mexico, but a lot of people's parents are from Mexico," he told the newspaper. "I grew up American."
The disclosure comes amid a debate about whether the children of illegal immigrants, many of whom have spent their entire lives in the United States, should be given a path to citizenship or at least access to in-state tuition benefits at colleges and universities. On Monday, the California Supreme Court weighed in when it ruled that illegal immigrants are entitled to the same tuition breaks offered to in-state high school students to attend public colleges and universities. While the ruling applies only to California, the case was closely watched nationally because nine other states, including New York and Texas, have similar laws. This is yet another example of why the DREAM Act needs to be passed — not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it also protects upstanding would-be citizens like Ramirez.
Read more at MSNBC.