Can a Brilliant Illegal Alien Go To College in the U.S.?

Juan is an illegal alien who’s been in the U.S. since age 7. A really, really smart one, apparently, because he’s been accepted to some really tough colleges and been offered big scholarships.

Problem is, he can’t take any government money because he’s not an American citizen. Thus, he’s in quite the pickle.

Hello Judge Josh,

First off let me thank you for your continuous blog posts. They are quite nice and I do enjoy them.


My question is should I go to college this fall? It is as simple and complicated as that.

Hmmm. Tell me more.

Here is my situation. I immigrated to the United States from México at the age of seven. I am now eighteen and I am still completely undocumented. This spring I graduated from the best high school in my state however being an illegal alien has essentially crippled my entire academic career.

The least controversial illegal immigration pic I could find. Let's see how pissy it makes some of you anyway.

I missed out on summer internships, student exchange trips, and ofcourse had to deal with the social burden that came from knowing that my peers knew about my situation. However the biggest setback came last year when I got a full ride scholarship to an amazing engineering school only to last minute read the fine print and find out that being a legal resident was one of the requirements.

Ouch. Talk about a gut-punch.

What made that situation worse was that earlier in the year I had gotten a near stress fracture in my right knee meaning all of the money I would have racked up from athletic scholarships for XC/track was also gone.

And, a  second gut punch.

When college acceptance letters came in I was in the worst possible situation. I was smart enough to get into Harvey Mudd/Rose Hulman and such but fell short of getting into Stanford/MIT where they would meet full need. As an undocumented student I cannot receive any money from the government. I can only receive merit scholarships from private universities and private scholarships.

Gotcha. I’m hatching a plan as we speak.

Currently I am planning to attend an out of state engineering school. It is a good school and they did their best with merit based scholarships and It would cost $22.000 a year to attend.

Damn. That’s a pretty big chunk of change to be shelling out for a guy who got into Harvey Mudd. Which, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a small math/engineering school in California whose entry requirements are astronomical. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can say you aced both the verbal and math SAT and immediately have seven people at the same lunch table roll their eyes and say, “well yeah, so did I.”

I would either attend for four years and get a double major and one minor or for five years and obtain a masters and a double major. However, I do not know if it is worth it to go to college.

I’m not sure if you want to do that $22k/year thing, but yes, I think you should still go to college. We’ll get to that in a second, though.

As of now I have no real reason to believe that my legal status should change within the next four years.

I am no authority whatsoever on the likelihood of this happening, either. From nothing more than a personal standpoint as someone who is reasonably up to speed on current affairs, my opinion is that immigration issues will come to a head in the next 2-4 years, reform of some kind will pass, and that reform will include some type of amnesty. I also think amnesty will be given first to guys like you — people who moved here as children and have lived their entire lives, basically, in the U.S.

Having said that, no one on earth can predict this. It’s a political issue, so it’s going to be decided by national politicians, who will largely ignore any sense of what’s wrong or right (because they have no such sense) and act in their own best interests at all costs. So…I guess that’s all I have to say about that part of it.

The thought of four years from now standing with a diploma in hand telling myself “well at least I tried” is simply unbearable. Not only that but if I start working now I can make $24.000 a year. Assuming I save $12.500 a year it would mean that going to college and the end of four years would cost me $130.000. Money that I would never get back if I don’t get a real job. Since I cannot take out student loans most of the money would come from my parents. Money for which they have worked hard over the years with close to minimum wage salaries.

Agreed. Honestly, the whole “I’m going to work and save up enough money to pay for my college myself” is a route I almost never advise, because college costs are so high that it’s unrealistic in most cases.

If I do go to college and find a way to be legalized it would make my life perfect.

Probably not, but much better than it is now. 🙂

However, since the fifth grade I have been watching this situation unfold and each day I have woken up to the same situation. Now with tuition due in just over a month I feel as thought it might be time to finally fold and admit defeat.

Maybe in this particular battle, but not the entire war.

I don’t think I can be blamed for a poor effort just certain factors out my control have a led to a difficult situation.

Eh, blame is irrelevant IMHO. Let’s just focus on the situation at hand and figure out how to get you the best outcome.

I would retire a happy person I put in the effort and gave it a go. Still being the first in my finally to go college is still an enticing idea and I would love nothing else. With recent talk of the Dream Act it has kept my dying candle lit a bit longer.

So what should I do? Should I roll the dice and hope for skull eyes or just simply move on with my life and leave my worries behind me?

Well, have you ever considered just waiting a year before you go to school? The undeniable truth is that you’re going to have to settle for something less than your ideal situation because of your legal status — no question about that. But resist the temptation to just say “screw it all” and ditch the whole idea of college.

If you got into Harvey Mudd, then your test scores and qualifications have to be outlandishly good. They ought to qualify you for a full-ride scholarship at a private school somewhere for whom your status is not a deal-breaker.

Why don’t you take a year off, research some private schools that are still strong yet a bit less competitive than the Harvey Mudds of the world, and try to swing a full ride from one of those schools? That doesn’t seem unattainable.

Or, you could move to a different state — perhaps the one housing the school you’re currently planning to attend — and see if you can swing a) a full-ride from them, or b) even the same offer they’ve got for you now, except then you’ll be a resident and pay less tuition. (I’m assuming they’ll give you state resident status if you complete their requirements, even if you’re not a U.S. citizen. I admit, there are waaaaay too many issues at play here for me to know precisely what the hell I’m talking about).

Those two things seem like smarter routes, I think. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of commentary today from readers, so readers, listen up — please weigh in here if you have any knowledge or experience to add to the discussion. Or, of course, your regular comments.

And this seems crazy to have to say, but I’ve gotten a few emails along these lines from other illegal immigrants so I’ll say it: You can email me anything you want, as often as you want, and no, I will not share your name or email or anything else with the government (or anyone else, for that matter).

178 thoughts on “Can a Brilliant Illegal Alien Go To College in the U.S.?”

  1. Well, you’ve got ourselves another Juan here. I am an admitted student with decent SAT scores. The problem is with Financing (Same as Juan’s), and I can tell that Juan is still confused about where to study next. He might as well stick to waiting for the next batch coming to Roswell !

    Ilias/International student

    1. When you applied, what did you put as your current ‘status’? Did you indicate that you were undocumented? I feel insecure in admitting that I am illegal. I fear the possible consequences.

  2. A few years ago, I worked for a company who had an employee who was an illegal. We were trying to find a way for him to become legal. It seems about the only way to become completely legal is to get married to a US citizen, get a work visa, make all the hearings, etc. I wonder if someone can offer an experience in this, but when that was happening, I read that a company can sponsor your citizenship. It might involve going to live in your original country of residence for a few months, but if you are willing to commit to a contracted position with them once you graduate, with scores like that, it would be worth it.
    OK, with that said, here’s another take. Depending on the type of engineering you are going into, there are some really good schools in Mexico. I don’t know what else they specialize in, but there is a college in Mexico City that has a really good chemical engineering program (my boyfriend is a chemical engineering professor and has a friend that teaches there). If you attend there for a bachelor’s degree, then you’re hired by a US company, they will sponsor you and help you get a green card, then you can go to grad school in the US.

  3. I think that if he really wanted to go to these schools, he should spend the time to actually become a legal citizen instead of taking the place of a citizen in that school. It does not matter how smart he is. He is here illegally and he knows it. At least be smart enough to do the right thing and become a citizen.

    1. There’s not way to become legal, before becoming illegal you need residence and they’re not giving them away.

    2. I think its funny how people say ” Oh just become a citizen” Ha Ha Ha. Seriously if it was that easy im sure there would be no illegal immigrants in this country. You dont understand what the situation is like until you’re in their shoes. You dont understand that becoming a citizen isnt as easy as saying “oh just become one”. To become legal you have to have some sort of law to back you up, and with the broken immigration system that this country has, its becoming harder and harder to have ‘papers’. Im a student myself that was accepted into Cornell but could not afford tuition because im in the same situation as the student in this article. All i have to say is that people should not talk if they dont know what its like, but instead should support students that want to go big in life no matter their legal status.

    3. Well Net if you think you are so smart and act so arrogant then maybe you should keep your mouth shut. Becuase all it does is make you look insensitive and rude. Maybe instead of critizing others you should be smart enough to take a look at yourself and relaize that you have no heart or manners. Hope that your family doesnt ever go through something ot of their hands because then you will be considered a hypocrite.

  4. Daniel Andres Dominguez

    Just as a point, it would be appreciated if readers do not use this forum as a political battlefield. This website and this article were designed for academic advice, not discussions over controversial topics such as immigration. Please leave comments as references to past experiences, advice, etc. Thank you.

  5. Okay my feelings about illegal immigration asisde, I have two comments. One . . . Josh, this is definitly a sensational pull to get more readers. You are definitly a former journalism student. Two . . . I also agree that he needs to take a year and work on his citizenship. It will continue to be a roadblock the rest of his life if he can’t get it settled. Many places will not hire an illegal citizen, at least not the places an education engineering student would want to go. He will always have to live looking over his shoulder, and the higher he goes up the career ladder the farther he will have to fall if the government or his employeer catches up with him.

    My advice is to take a year and research how he could recieve acknowledgement from the government even if it’s just a student visa for now. That is another option. If there is a way for him to go back to Mexico and attend the university as an international student, then that opens a whole new slew of scholarship possibilities. These are just a few suggestions, but like Josh I am not an immigration expert. I haven’t researched this issue in years.

  6. I am going through similar issues. There is absolutely no way of attaining legal residence if you entered the country illegally. Worst without being properly admitted. If you say, jump a fence, then there are absolutely no solutions but to wait. Like me I’m sure your pride is overwhelming. However, I found that small private colleges will find students like us exceptional. You should go to small college of your choice, meet the admission director face to face, bring your grades, and SAT scores. Tell them your situation and what you are looking for; a full scholarship.
    I suggest you find schools outside the sate of California. California is said to have some of the best high schools, thus, they will be thousands of exceptional kids in your shoes, trying to do the same thing. Try MA or CT. States that are not close to the border, primarily in the north will be more liberal and helpful.

    1. I agree with Kera try a private. I am also in the same situation, but I am attentding a private college, that offers me not a full scholarship but it help alot, and getting some sponsor from rich people or family helps. From there apply to scholarships, or you can ask someone to get a loan for you and you pay them so they can pay the loan. There are ways to do this.

  7. That’s tough. My heart goes out to you.
    Here are the first options that come to mind for your situation!

    1. Research schools in Mexico for the major you’re interested in (assuming you’re proficient in Spanish, of course).

    2. Marry a close friend to expedite obtaining U.S. citizenship.

    3. Do the citizenship thing the old fashioned way. Since you would be interviewed (every situation is different), and are obviously already aware of U.S. laws and proficient in English, you may not have to wait as long or work as hard for it as someone who hasn’t acculturated. Here’s a link to the website of the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services that explains the full process –

    4. Research private schools to find someone who doesn’t care about your citizenship status.

    5. Find lots and lots of scholarships!

    6. Find a donor/sponsor. There are a lot of rich people out there whose hearts and money may go out to you.

    Best of luck! =)

  8. Well hello there. I guess am another Juan. I also attended the best high school in Illinois, and graduated as Valedictorian in 2008. I got a 32 in my ACT scores and well same situation as Juan. Came to the States when I was nine years old. I just graduated from a community college, and just transfered to UIC. Majoring in Mathematical Science and and Secondary Ed. Since I do not qualify for financial aid, I had to cover all my expenses. Am currently working two full time jobs and attending school full-time as well. Two more years and I will be done with my degree. It is quite challenging to accommodate to my schedule but I have managed. My mother always is there pushing me to not give up. thanks to her emotional support I have been able to hang in there. am barely 18 years old and am 3 semesters away from receiving my degree. I am excited; however, as soon as I graduate, I will be faced with another burden, I will not be able to work. Isn’t a shame, that I want to work at a public high school and give back to my community but because of current immigration laws I will not be able to. With the current law, much talent is being wasted. I do not know what will I do when I graduate, I will be in limbo as well. From Chicago, another brilliant student whose dreams may become shattered. Hang in there Juan.

  9. Don’t give up!
    Your are not an illegal alien. You are an undocumented. Don’t call yourself illegal ever! I’m undocumented as well. My parents are working really really hard to pay for my school. I am attending a 4 year university in California. I’m half way done. So my advice to you is start at community college. Keep going don’t let this obstacle stop you. And lets hope the DREAM Act is passed soon.

  10. leeja,

    i was wondering what university in mexico you were talking about? im in juan’s situation and i’d like to know more about this! 🙂

    1. Hi, I’m a little late to the game on this one but the best school in Mexico (and one of the best schools in the world) is UNAM. They have great engineering and art programs, and the tuition, relative to US schools, is really cheap. I researched it a bit and still might end up taking some classes there. Mexico City is one of my favorite places!

      Juan’s story is heartbreaking and very familiar; I live in San Diego and have many friends who are, or who have been, in similar situations. There are a many colleges in California that will not take immigration status into consideration – best of luck to everybody.

  11. In recent years there have been ton of storys like Juan’s, where kids are
    undocumented and can not obtain the dreams they want because their not citizen of the United States but are residents of a state. Maybe while Juan is working on getting his citizenship he should also try to look at school in Mexico, where he is legal and won’t have to suffer tremendous debt and nationality heated debate.

    1. You’re kind of assuming a lot, there are more than a hundred countries to choose from. He could be Canadian, Portuguese, Guatemalan, Argentinian, etc.

  12. Has he approached the school seeing if they would make an exception? Exceptions are made all the time for promising young individuals. I agree there is a private school that would give him a full ride with his academic qualifications. I would start with the smaller schools maybe in the state he is in and work from there. I don’t agree with taking a year off. Even if he has to go part time he should go ahead and start somewhere. I would also talk to an immigration attorney. Consultations are usually free and you might could get some free legal advise in exchange for an internship at the attorney’s office or he might be willing to provide some pro bono work. As for the comment above about taking the place of a “citizen,” I just do not see that as an issue. Anyone in America can go to college at an affordable cost. It is just an excuse that people use that they cannot afford college. Anything worth obtaining is going to take some effort.

  13. Just for the sake of clarification: When you enter the U.S. illegally, there’s no process that I’m aware of to “become legal” other than going back to your home country, applying, and waiting.

    I point that out because Juan came over with his family at 7 years old. It’s not like he could’ve just walked away from the house at age 9 or 11 or 15 or whatever and just headed back to Mexico — where it’s possible that no one’s even there waiting for him anyway. Maybe he has family, maybe he doesn’t — doesn’t really matter, though, if you’re a child — you pretty much have to stay with your parents.

    So, while there are plenty of situations where “go home and do it the right way” is a valid point of view, it’s hard to put that argument to Juan, who came here with his family at 7.

    1. Why is that???
      Instead of a 100 question civics exam and a few interviews, he has spent 11 years living here. In those 11 years since he’s been a good student etc, I would say that he’s passed through a much tougher naturalization exam process than what the government offers as the legal route to someone who has not entered the country illegally. We already know that he’s fluent in English, that he’s a hard-working student
      I’m also not sure what the term “undocumented” really means or how it is being applied because Juan has grades, took SATs, applied to college… so there are tons of documents about him. So it just doesn’t make sense to me to use the term “undocumented”.

  14. Go do a decent community college in California, ( I went to MiraCosta college) and use your free time to get a part-time job and do research on your legal complications.Its 26 bucks a unit, you knock out your GE requirements, get an AA degree to fall back on, and save at least 50k by using your time at your university to learn what you really want to learn, not what they force you to. Try enrolling in an honors program through the community college that will guarantee you a transfer to a semi-decent school (mine had UCSD as the shoe in, and it offered seminars in which no more that five students met with instructors to do extracurricular work.)

    And, this comes with some bias, but if you are looking at an affordable, top-notch engineering college you should really consider UC Berkeley. If you make under 70k a year, tuition is free. All told, I pay about 7k a year to go here… Its a pretty good deal.

    Good luck, man.

  15. Well, that’s a crap situation. It’s disheartening to see someone with so much potential being disallowed (basically) from fulfilling it.

    I think the first thing he should do is to contact an immigration attorney and find out if there’s any possible way to secure a green card, if not citizenship. It’s possible that given the amount of potential he demonstrates, he would be able to get a green card (which would also allow him to get financial aid; I know this because my mother isn’t a citizen but was able to get federal financial aid) which could ultimately lead to full citizenship.

    Second, I agree w/ the idea of taking a year off. He could probably defer his admission to Harvey Mudd a year, which would give him the opportunity (hopefully) to settle the immigration issues so he can attend, or find a school who’ll offer a better aid package irrespective of his immigration status (if he’s unable to secure a green card).

  16. For the first comment of this discussion… Yeah, Juan’s smarter than you and got into super good schools like Harvey Mudd. No need to be jealous that a Hispanic immigrant is better than you, k? And if Juan were to go back to Mexico and apply for citizenship and wait, then he would never go to college. I have an uncle in Vietnam who applied to immigrate here three or four years ago. His parents and 9 siblings are citizens here in the U.S. You know how much longer he’ll have to wait? Seven years! I personally think that taking a year off and reapplying to schools is a good idea. With that year off, you could try to find some way to reduce your illegal status somewhat like a student visa. With SAT scores like yours, you could probably full-ride it at a decent private university or liberal arts school. Sure, you’ll have to lower your standards, but that’s what happens when you’re not rich (happened to me).

  17. Thank you for that last point you made Josh. Most people don’t know that currently there is no process to “become legal” aside from having to go back to your home country to apply and wait a very long time, sometimes years, and sometimes you don’t get approved, not matter how smart you are. If you had applied in the 90s, you may have had a chance to get your residency after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in the span of a few years. It is especially hard for those families like his which barely make minimum wage.
    There are states our there that allow you to obtain financial aid even when you are undocumented, as long as you are filing taxes, and have proof that you do. In Texas, my friend was able to obtain a full ride scholarship along with financial aid to pay off her schooling (she was ranked 4th in her high school). She was also able to obtain a master’s degree after having received a fellowship from one of the departments within her university, which paid for the whole thing including books. She did all this without having her residency. It is possible with the right help, but unfortunately most bright students don’t have the proper guidance or information to get through college. There are scholarships out there that can help this bright student finance his college education, and I am sure he’ll get most of them with his SAT scores. Here are just some websites with the information:

  18. Josh is correct: if Juan were interested in pursuing citizenship, he would have to go back to Mexico, and start the 7-10 year process from square one. Regardless of the fact that he’s been here since he was 7.

    You could always go to community college and then transfer…it would be cheaper, and in the first 2 years you’re just taking those gen-ed classes anyway. Have you looked into the requirements for getting a student visa? In the long run, you’ll want to find a way to be here legally… because I really don’t see how you can get the well-paying job you deserve without documents.

  19. Bright young individual. Sometimes we can’t get what we want even if it seems like we should. I agree, attending such a great engineering school would be great, but sometimes we have to be humble about where we stand. Be glad you were accepted into such great school, but I’m sure you applied to other smaller schools, maybe not as prestige, but still good enough that will be willing to give you a full ride or at least 3/4 of the tuition. For God’s sake even half of the tuition would be good enough, better than no education at all.

    You don’t HAVE to go out of state, by all means you could remain in-state, and cut down tuition completly!

    Believe it or not, I was in the same situation. I had to give up my dream school for a smaller in-town college. Good engineering school I may add, and truly appreciated my talent graduating #15 in my class. I was awarded a merit scholarship, and like you, I was awarded and outside scholarship, just to have it taken away because I wasn’t a legal resident.
    Life gives you obstacles and you have to work with what you have.
    Yes I would have died to attend my dream college, but I’m glad I’m reciving my education and working hard to pay half of my tuition.
    If I can do it, so could you! Don’t give up!!

  20. Okay….I hate to be the realist here, but the advice to “reduce” illegal status through a student visa will NOT work. Not only are there restrictions (like being forced to apply NOT in the United States….not only is that not allowed, it’d be a dead giveaway that he is already here illegally), but you a) already need a school that you are going to go to and b) probably need to meet a financial test that you can support yourself if you get into the country. The order of things is not conducive to Juan’s situation.

    Additionally, the point about how being illegal can affect your status for the rest of your life is more than valid. There have been New York Times articles about students who graduation from Ivy League colleges and cannot get jobs in this country anyway. So before you go spending thousands of dollars on an education here, think about that first.

    It’s a tough situation that is really, really hard to figure out. I think for sure you’re going to have to take a year off. I’d suggest applying to international schools for next year, or, go to school in the states and get married ASAP.

  21. Those are some baller SAT scores. However, aren’t there any nice schools that are, well, outside of the USA?

  22. The only way that Juan can become legalized at this point is to marry someone. He should just marry a close friend of his and he’ll become a permanent resident in 6 months. Then, he could claim all of his scholarships, grants and take out loans.

  23. The problem is that there needs to be a federal law like the Dream Act. One year off will not magically fix his status, I’m sure he has tried every avenue to achieve a student visa. The Dream Act will legalize undocumented students that have attended 4 years at a US high school, and put them on a path to citizenship. The Dream Act was defeated in 2007 in the US Senate. John McCain and Barack Obama both supported the Dream Act in 2007.

  24. Well Juan im in your same postion. I jus graduated college and i feel i have no future either. I cant recieve grant money from the federal government either. However, each case is slightly different. I believe you should still try and pursue a college education you never know what kind of luck you might find yourself in. Remember, that people who try are down to find success. Si se puede!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Juan should not give up his dream of further education. He is a top student and he cannot allow his brilliance to go to waste. Juan can apply as an international applicant. If he still has relatives or friends in his native country, then he can ask them to list their address for acceptance letters and paperwork to be mailed to.

  26. Interesting topic, Josh. I’ve never really thought about it from the perspective of a young child who didn’t have much choice in their illegal-immigrant status.

    First of all, I say DON’T WAIT. Don’t take a year off. It scares me when people start talking about that, because even as a motivated student, I don’t think I would have gone back if I had waited a year. It’s so easy to get stuck in the ‘real world’ and forget about school. I see 26-year-olds still saying, “I’m hoping to go back to college soon…” but I know the odds are very slim that it’ll actually happen.

    I don’t have much knowledge about the laws of immigration, but I’m wondering if there might be an opportunity to apply as an international student? Explaining the situation to an admissions representative (sworn to secrecy) might open up opportunities to work the system, so to speak. Of course, this wouldn’t qualify Juan for government aid (I don’t think, anyway), but it could reopen the channels for university-based aid like the cross-country scholarship and such.

    Good luck, Juan. Gotta say I’m jealous of your academic achievement, while at the same time very proud that you’re setting a good example for anyone around you! I will never belittle anyone seeking academic success, no matter their citizenship status, religious beliefs, etc. Knowledge should transcend all those boundaries.

  27. I’ve been reading this blog for a while now, and thought I should comment. It’s extremely easy to be intolerant of people in Juan’s situation while not offering any helpful advice. My heart really goes out to you Juan, you’ve got so much potential that should not be wasted. I really hope you find a way to get out of this!
    Also, Huynh, applying for a student visa would be an issue because it would mean notifying immigration authorities of the fact that Juan is in the States illegally. That can’t be a way about it, because as far as I know, you can’t be in the States illegally and apply for a visa from here. It’s a direct ticket to getting deported, even though it’s not even his fault that he’s got illegal status. I know this because I’m an international student, and I have a visit visa as well as a student visa, both of which I had to apply for in my home country.
    Anyway, good luck Juan!

  28. He should either become legal or go back to Mexico. Have no problems with him being here if he is trying to become a citizen. If he’s not willing to become a citizen then he should go back. It’s apparent he didn’t come in the right way and should be forced to become legal or sent back over the border!!!!!!!

    1. There currently IS no way for him to achieve legal status. I’m sure he would love to become a citizen, but there is currently no legal pathway for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to gain U.S. citizenship. He was brought to the U.S. at a young age, as a child, and as far as his life is concerned, the U.S. is his home. This is why it is so important for the DREAM act to be passed, so it can give students like Juan, who were brought to the U.S. as children, a path to citizenship.

      Don’t punish children for the actions of their parents.

    2. Can I just emphasize how much you could not have made the execution of being such an ASS more perfect?
      He was brought here at age 7. It’s not like you can say,”Hey Mom, Dad, I kind of don’t feel like going with you guys to the United States of America and not see you for the rest of my life. I feel like staying right here because I wouldn’t want to deal with legal status issues and such.”
      Seriously, I just wonder about people like you.

  29. Thank you for that last point you made Josh (as well as some of the other posts that followed). Most people don’t know that currently there is no process to “become legal” aside from having to go back to your home country to apply and wait a very long time, sometimes years, sometimes you don’t get approved, not matter how smart you are. If you had applied in the 90s, you may have had a chance to get your residency after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in the span of a few years. It is especially hard for those families like his which barely make minimum wage.
    There are states out there that allow you to obtain financial aid even when you are undocumented, as long as you are filing taxes, and have proof that you do. In Texas, my friend was able to obtain a full ride scholarship along with financial aid to pay off her schooling (she was ranked 4th in her high school). She was also able to obtain a master’s degree after having received a fellowship from one of the departments within her university, which paid for the whole thing including books. She did all this without having her residency. It is possible with the right help, but unfortunately most bright students don’t have the proper guidance or information to get through college. There are scholarships out there that can help this bright student finance his college education, and I am sure he’ll get most of them with his SAT scores.
    He should go to college now, even when it is less “competitive.” Most schools like Harvard or Yale are known more for their grad schools, so bachelor degrees are very similar across colleges throughout the US, whether its ivy league or not.

  30. Juan, I completely understand your situation. I work in a Hispanic restaurant while working on my degree in geology so I see situations like yours on a daily basis. As ridiculous as it sounds, I completely agree with the idea of marrying a citizen. It may not be the most perfect answer but I think it would open an infinite number of doors through which you can reach your full potential.
    Hope everything works out!

  31. My friend Gigi is a teacher here. She came here 7 years ago legally by applying for a visa and getting into a school here. She is also working on her green card at the same time and has to renew her visa regularly to be allowed to continue to work here. Juan can and should work on his legal status because that is the law of this land and the right thing to do. Taking a year or two off to do so is good advice because it will go a long way to securing his future. He could seek the advice of an immigration attorney for help in getting that visa and he should learn his options for going to school as an international student.

    1. pinappledeerbaby

      oh my word… have you no eyes?! seriously, anne, it’s really not as though it hasn’t been posted enough times here. THERE ARE NO WAYS TO BECOME LEGAL CITIZENS FOR CHILDREN BROUGHT TO THE UNITED STATED ILLEGALLY!!! yes, Juan “should work on his legal status because that is the law of this land and the right thing to do”, but he CANNOT. and yes, he “could seek the advice of an immigration attorney for help in getting that visa and he should learn his options for going to school as an international student”; however, there is nothing that an immigration attorney can do for him and being an international student is not an option offered to the undocumented.

      please, educate yourself before posting something again

  32. Noemi Bermudez

    To the question posted as the title my answer is: YESSS!

    I am in almost the exact same situation as Juan, and was valedictorian of my graduating class plus had all those other factors that made me appealing to great universities. Next Fall, I will be attending Nova Southeastern University, a private university in South Florida. I will only be contributing $5,000 of my own money since I got tuition covered by merit and leadership scholarships. More amazing is the fact that I will be living on campus because of a leadership scholarship. God has really blessed me and I believe that with determination and faith anything is possible.

    Juan, don’t become hopeless because there are always people who are willing to help you. You just need to open up and ask as hard as it may be sometimes to put your situation out in the open. Don’t be afraid to speak with companies that offer scholarships.

    As it looks, starting college this fall where you were planning on going, is a stretch. Don’t give up on the whole notion of school though. Just take some classes at a community college meanwhile.

    Private universities are definitely more open to undocumented students and also offer more scholarships. I found out recently that Duke University gives a lot of aid regardless of status. Research different schools and call them to find out if they would waive your out-of-state tuition rate based on your profile as a student.

    Be willing to change your ambitious plans regarding your choice for college. Remember that there is still graduate school. I wanted to attend either University of Miami or University of Florida (both accepted me), but I realized that I could not afford it. I settled for NSU, but am now super excited about going there. I could just to UF or UM for graduate school, and that is when it’s really worth it to get into big loans.

    As for your immigration process, I know that if there was anything you could do, you would have already done it. Student and others are really pressuring for the DREAM Act to pass so I pray that ultimately it will.

    My best wishes for everything. Keep your head up :]

  33. You have no idea how hard it is to get your citizenship! it’s not like you can wake up one morning and go pay a lawyer and get your citizenship. It takes a long long time and it is very hard. By going to school Juan would not be taking the place of an American citizen he is taking the place that he deserves. Just because he wasn’t born in America doesn’t mean he isn’t American. He grew up here and to him America is everything. He didn’t have a choice whether to come here so he shouldn’t be punished for it. He was brought here and he made the best that he could. He went to school got the grades and became better than many of you AMERICAN CITIZENS 🙂 no need to be jealous 🙂

    Anyways Juan I think that you should take a year off and apply to schools that offer scholarships. You probably have really good SAT scores and I’m sure any school will accept you. I live in New Jersey and here Ramapo offers full scholarships to students with a 1300 or above and Stockton does too. Just research and I’m sure you’ll find other schools in your area. Don’t worry and don’t give up! You’ll make it and be everything you wanted to be 🙂

  34. A student with his smarts should then be able to understand the world “ILLEGAL” in his title, “Illegal Immigrant.” Therefore, he should be deported, and be forced to come here the right way with papers. I don’t care how much brain power one has. The fact of the matter is, is that he has enjoyed our public education system that we AMERCIANS and LEGAL RESIDENTS pay for. I don’t understand what the debate about illegal immigrants is. If you are not here with the proper papers, you do not belong here. End of story.

    1. ‘Gotta love the ignorance of some people.
      Seriously, try picturing yourself at age seven, your parents coming in and telling you to sit down, because they need to talk to you about something important. They tell you you’ll be going to a place far away, but you will have what you need and, essentially, you will be better off. You’ll leave everything and everyone you know behind. Just like that. You, of course, have no other choice but to come along.
      It’s as if you think we had OPTIONS or somethin’.
      Those that DESERVE this educational system? Hmm, you could debate that. But when it comes down to it, I came into this country at the age of eight with only knowing the words “window” and “mother”, and at the end of the day, I’m alright because I know I’m giving it my all– something some ungrateful “legal citizens” can’t say for themselves.
      Next time you make such a judgment, try to look past your nose.

      1. pinappledeerbaby

        sarah, you are actually just overcome with jealousy because of his superior intellect, i’m sure. i’m probably right to assume that you are one of many who take their legal status for granted. “should be deported”? “enjoyed our public education system that we AMERCIANS and LEGAL RESIDENTS pay for”? please, educate yourself. obviously, you do not know, but many illegals DO pay taxes. the INS and IRS do not communicate much, and therefore, illegal immigrants can pay taxes without alerting INS about their status. knowing this now, could you say that Juan deserves to enjoy the same rights to the public school system as you, a “LEGAL RESIDENT”? if money and taxes are your only arguments, there really is no debate.

  35. The Problem is not that he wont become legal; its that he cant. If you spend any time watching the news, you would now that the only way…aside from marriage that an illegal immigrant can become legal is with an immigration reform. So he cant just become a citizen.

    Juan Keep going…it wont be easy but it can be done. Try getting a lawyer to advise you on your status. And ask around, work hard and you can accomplish a lot. Good luck!

  36. How about some engeneering schools OUTSIDE of the US? You can apply for student visas or international student status in many countries, and while you’re in those countries, try to apply for US citizenship?

    I live in Ontario, Canada, and we have some realllyyy good engeneering programs here that would definitely be a great challenge to you too 🙂

  37. If you are intent on getting legal status and free college, then go back to Mexico and get your degree there while you are waiting for your United States citizenship. Then once you receive your citizenship, apply to the college of your choice and continue on with your degree as a legalized US citizen. I was born in the United States and have to pay for my schooling. I am not entitled to free schooling I have to pay for it. Is this a drawback of being a US citizen and why legal status is frowned on? Will I be able to enter into Mexico illegally and go to college there for free? No I wouldn’t. Why should it be any different here? Get legal status and then pay your own way.

    1. I’m a US citizen and I don’t have to pay for college. That’s because I worked really hard to get to school, got good grades, and am doing it all on my own without parental or other help, which qualified me for scholarships and grants. Just FYI.

  38. In my opinion, as a student, a mother, and as a criminal justice major, Juan should return to Mexico and apply for a student visa. He is NOT a U.S. citizen, so an education here would effectively go to waste as U.S. employers cannot legally hire an illegal alien. (No politically correct crap here; the U.S. Code states that a person who remains within the U.S. illegally is an Illegal Alien, not an undocumented immigrant, a seasonal worker, or anything of the sort. Illegal Alien is the only OFFICIAL term for it.)

    My advice, return to Mexico, begin the citizenship process, and apply for a student visa in the mean time. Juan’s age of arrival is of no bearing in this matter, as when he turned 18, he is responsible for his own decisions. Knowing he is violating the law by remaining within the country illegally does nothing for his integrity in the long run, nor will it earn him favor from legal students or peer groups later on. He may also end up missing out on important internship opportunities in the long run.
    There is no entitlement to anything based on the behaviors of parents that knowingly broke, and continue to break the law. Regardless of the age of his arrival into the U.S., Juan should receive no special privileges unless he works to get them, and by work, I mean do it the right way.

  39. It’s the opinions of people like Sarah that will be the downfall of this country. Don’t speak about things you can’t comprehend.

  40. Sarah,

    Schools are generally funded via property and sales taxes, which everyone pays, either through sales taxes, property taxes, or via rent, as the taxes are passed on to the renter by the property owner. Everyone pays for education, whether a citizen, legal or illegal immigrant. Illegal immigrants are younger and less likely to be going to school. Only 1.5 of students in elementary school, 3 percent of secondary school children were undocumented.

    Juan deserves to take advantage of an American education as much as you do. All in all, he is American.

  41. I don’t have any advice for you Juan because I wouldn’t even begin to know how to unravel your situation. But do want to encourage you to keep following your dream. Keep fighting! Good luck man.

  42. If you’re illegal – GO BACK to Mexico and go to college in your own country!!! Or just move to Arizona and they’ll take care of you and send you to where Obama, the lamestream media, and the politically correct (so correct they’re choking on their own puke) academic system don’t have the balls to send you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You want education in America – do it the legal way and stop breaking our laws you criminal – remember, invading a country is a crime!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! God Bless America and may he save us from the LEFT!!

  43. Jonathan Molina Garcia

    If you are reading this, then take pride in everything you’ve done. You should be proud of how far you’ve come. I’m sure you’re a wonderful person and it breaks my heart to know that you’re going through this. 
    This article has touched a deep chord with me because I am going through something very similar. I came to the united states illegaly when I was six years old and graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and as my school’s salutatorian. When I left, I went to a prestigious art and design private university in New York City with a 22k scholarship out of a total of 50k in expected costs. Needless to say, I barely completed my first year, and I left with thousands of dollars in debt, which forced me to take a leave of absence. It was the most devastating experience of my life, to know that I’d gone through and felt the full force of my dream and ambitions, only to have it crush because of my status and financial woes. To you, my friend, I extend a hand of comfort and solace. I know how hard you have it. 
    Having said that, I do not recommend messing with the legal aspects of it. You must know how complex and expensive it is to even seek out a green card, and you are not in a position to take the time, devotion, and energies required for such a difficult and intense process. Focus, instead, on the loopholes and opportunities there are in the education system. 
    Being from El Salvador myself, I retain a temporary work permit and social security card because of the federal government’s decision to give us those documents about a decade ago, so in so far as my situation is concerned, I know that I qualify for private scholarships if I have a US citizen as a co-signer. I don’t know if that is a possibility if you have no documents. However, if you have not looked into it, I recommend befriending citizens or residents that may assist you. You can get private scholarships from almost all banks, small and large alike. 
    Nonetheless, if you are trying to go to a private university, I would not recommend this, because the interest rate is enormous, and you’ll end up hurting yourself in the future. Also, and I can tell you this from personal experience, few cosigners will want to sign on to such a commitment. 
    Also, if you haven’t done so already, I would highly recommend that you look into public universities, as the tuition is cheaper (and could therefore be covered with your own and your family’s contribution), and some, like the one I hope to attend in north Texas, provide scholarships from their own pool of resources and are not federally funded. I stress the word some, because there are those that exclusively rely on the FAFSA application. 
    I am not too aware of California’s legislation on the matter, but Texas and a few other states offer state funded aid, which only require that you be a resident of your state, not the country. For example, I applied for the TAFSA (Texas application for student financial aid; something along those line, I don’t remember what it stands for exactly). Be warn, state funds provide embarrassingly low funds ($2500 in my case), so there will be other things you’ll have to do. Again, I don’t know if this is something that’s available for California and even if it was, if it could apply to you (I really would like to speak with you one on one).
    There are also some scholarships available specifically to undocumented students. Top of my head, I can’t remember them, but if you look through this list, my school has compiled a few scholarships:
    Some are better than other ones. In fact, some of them, if I remember correctly, don’t even apply to undocumented students, but you can shuffle through them yourself.
    Also, keep in mind that payment plans are usually always offered, and if you’ve lowered your tuition with any other means, you can pay for school yourself if you get a job near your school. And don’t take housing into consideration, as everybody knows that university sponsored housing is offensively inefficient and a joke (in my case, housing was a big reason why I wasn’t able to return to school). You can find roommates through craigslist for discounted rents, or if you have friends already attending a school, room with them and save yourself housing costs. 
    If you find that it is too late, and that even a public university poses a challenge, then try for a community college to get your basics out of the way (this is assuming that you’ve decided to attend a public university). Don’t be disheartened by this alternative. I know how it may seem like you’re lowering yourself, when you’re capable of so much more, but the most important advice I can give you is to be aware that you are totally and inevitably unique. As I’m sure it’s become painfully obvious, you are not like your friends. Things will always come at a price, and with the notion of government assistance thrown out the window, the idealism and optimism about living in America have been shortsighted by the truth that you are different. I say this because I found this out and went through incredible pain; everything I’d been taught about achieving my dreams through hard work had one glaring exception when it came to the attention and aid available to undocumented students.. It can all be so discouraging. But the sooner you realize that you’ll have to work even harder now, harder than anything you ever did in high school, the sooner you can go about trying to do the things that you know you must. 
    In short, I would not recommend going to a private school. Again, I know that this can be disheartening. It would be an understatement to say you’re smart, but you are, and you’ll be able to figure this out, even if it takes you a little bit longer than some people. Because once you get into that classroom of hundreds of kids unlike you, you’ll be fearless. And there will be nothing standing in your way. 

  44. Go back to Mexico and go to a college there!!! Better yet, go to Arizona and they’ll send you to where Obama, the lamestream media, and the marxist academic system don’t have the balls or morals to send you!!! You invade our country and break our most important law so your are therefore an invader and a criminal! You don’t deserve the benefits of American education or otherwise because you didn’t follow the proper process to even be entitled – it’s bad enough us citizens had to use our tax money to put you through public school! I’m from Russia, yet I am a complete legal citizen of the US now, and do go to college legally as well. If I can do it coming from half way around the world, from a far more controversial nation, than damn straight you can become a legal citizen!

  45. Cristina Tapia

    I just want to comment on the phrasing of the title and subject of Juan’s predicament–please dont use the word “alien” its so politically incorrect. None of us are aliens.


      Don’t get huffy because Josh used the correct terminology and you don’t appreciate the connotation. It’s not politically incorrect. To be honest, if you don’t have citizenship in this country then politically speaking, you don’t even have a voice.

      also see below:

      “Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of “Mexifornia: A State of Becoming,” says the terms are not derogatory.

      “[Illegal alien] doesn’t describe a person in a negative, pejorative way. It means they don’t have U.S. citizenship and that they didn’t come to the United States in a lawful manner,” he told the paper.

      D.A. King is the founder of the American Resistance Foundation, a group that seeks tougher enforcement of immigration laws. He told the Journal-Constitution the term “undocumented workers” is “a politically correct invention to soften the brutal fact that these people are breaking the law.”

      “A good comparison would be to say a bank robber simply made an unauthorized withdrawal,” he said.”

  46. While it is commendable that Juan has done so well, I don’t believe it is right for him to recieve any scholarships as an illegal alien. If he were to go through the work to become a citizen, that would be a different story. However, I believe that all scholarships (with the exception of international) should be reserved for American citizens. Though private scholarships are not funded by the tax dollars of citizens, making them available to anyone regardless of citizenship takes the opportunity to attend prestigious private schools away from many students with citizenship. It will be these students who will have an easier time finding jobs due to their legal status (It is probably harder for illegal aliens to be hired in upper level positions). They will have to pay taxes, unlike the illegal aliens, and possibly donate back to their alma mater which will provide for more scholarships for future students. Citizens should take priority when educational funding is involved.

  47. First of all, Please do not call us illegal immigrants. NO ONE IS ILLEGAL.

    I was in a similar situation as Juan when I was in high school.

    It is not our fault that our parents brought us to this country at such a young age. We had no say. However, I personally would never blame my parents for my situation. They wanted what was best for me and so that we could survive.
    To the people that say we are taking your money, have you considered the fact that we pay taxes too? My parents file taxes like any other American citizen.
    A lot of you keep saying that Juan should get a lawyer or just go back to Mexico to apply for citizenship. ITS NOT THAT EASY! The process can take a decade long and its not even guaranteed.

    Having said that, I am currently attending college in a full-tuition scholarship. I am a sophomore, working on my Biochemistry degree.
    Juan, I would suggest looking into smaller schools- smaller schools are more likely to help students like us. Also, what state do you live in? States like California and New York are more supportive about our situation. Hopefully the Dream Act will pass soon and we can just keep living life.
    If no school is willing to help you, which I doubt, have you considered moving to Mexico? My ultimate goal is to go to graduate school and become a physical therapist, but if I can’t get into a program, then I will move to Mexico. It is not the end of the world.

  48. I have VERY strong feelings about ILLEGAL immigration. I live on one of the border states of Mexico. Unless you live here, it is likely difficult for someone to understand how a large majority of us feel. I want to state that I am not against immigration. I AM against illegal immigration. My recommendation would be for Juan to go through the process and become legal. If he has money to attend college, he has enough to become legal. Then he can get help. If he wants to continue to be a fugitive and break the law, then he should forget getting government help or a free ride to education that our middle class LEGAL citizens can’t even get. I believe in following your dreams, legally. Go get your papers Juan! Immigrants can dish out thousands of dollars for cars, bikes, parties, drugs and booze, but can’t cough up enough to become legal? I’m sorry, I wish I could say that I feel very sorry for your situation, and if you were legal, I would! But you are not legal. That my friend is YOUR problem.

    1. I live in a border town too. As a result, I have many friends with stories similar to Juan’s. If you had ever talked to anybody with this issue you would understand that it isn’t as easy as “just get legal.” I know so many people who are working so hard to become citizens, many of whom were brought here as children and had no idea they did not have the correct documents until they were adults. Don’t punish the children for what the parents did. Do what everyone agrees we should do, if you are against illegal immigration, and push for immigration reform, so that people don’t have to go through situations like these.

      Also, let’s push for the end of NAFTA (American companies have effectively turned many thriving local economies in Mexico into ghost towns by taking over their industries for American interests, which pushes people over the border to look for work) and let’s deal strongly with anybody who hires illegal immigrants for anything, including day labor, gardening, and maid service.

  49. People commenting about how illegal immigrants need to go home should calm down. I think the guy (and the rest of us) have all heard these statements before.
    There are so many kids just wasting the opportunity to study here in the states; as a country, we are low on the charts when it comes to highschool graduates, test scores, etc. world wide! What I’m trying to say is that it’s not fair that these people (because they are just regular people, not “aliens”) can’t be given the chance to study and make their situation better because they have the drive and the mental capacity to work hard and really get good grades. They’re not just squandering what has always been given to them. Sure, it’s not right they are coming in to this country illegally, but it is also not right to expect them to pay thousands of dollars and have to wait years and years and still see no results when they have done what is needed to become a citizen.

  50. I’m sorry to hear about Juan’s situation but if he is so smart, than why hasn’t he become a American citizen? Why hasn’t his family done what is necessary to make sure they are here legally? It is not as hard as people think and if you truly want the best for your family then sacrifices need to be made. I have a family member who has come from another country recently along with two grandparents. But I transgress, My Family and I am paying for college, I have also been accepted to a top university and I also got excellent grades, a high SAT score, I was involved in student government, community service, clubs at school and I played two sports along with being the team captains and I am an American citizen, my high school is also large has over 3600 kids. If I have to pay for most of my college why should I want a non citizen to get anything for free. There are many, many students who are American citizens that are just as smart and qualified as Juan and Juan would be taking their spot at a top University. No Juan is breaking the law and should not be allowed anything extra until he becomes a true American citizen. If he is as smart as he claims than waiting a year or two before entering a college should be no problem. All of this fuss that he is making (believe me he knows what he is doing), will get him some special waiver. Also thanks to Josh and his presentation of Juan’s problem, Juan will get the media attention and what he needs for free and will continue on in life. Oh and by the way – Your welcome for my families taxes paying for you to be here illegally and paying for your medical care and most likely PT for your stress fracture.

  51. Just a quick comment to James, who commented above. I assure you that most illegal immigrants here are more that willing to become legal citizens. Right now the legal system makes it very difficult. I won’t get into whether or not this is how it should be or not… But I assure you that ‘willingness to become legal’ is not the issue.

    That said… Juan! Congratulations on your achievement. I have to say the situation you are in is quite difficult. But you have to be positive. I have been in the States (legally) for 10 years. I was valedictorian of my high school in South America, went to NYU Stern for school. I had to get an F-1 (student) visa, and yes, the financial requirements for that are quite high. Basically you have to be able to show that you or someone in the country where you apply can support school plus living expenses. Depending on the embassy (and the school you got accepted to) this could be anywhere from $15-20K annually).

    When I graduated college H1-B visas ran out almost immediately. It took about 3 tries (plus grad school) to be able to get an H1-B. I wrote letters to congressmen, talked to many lawyers, but there was nothing I could do to speed up the process. That said, there are a LOT more companies that are willing to sponsor an H1-B for engineering than for what I do. The more specialized (and high-skilled) your field, the better your odds of them making an exception.

    I should point out that my sister is a citizen (she was born in the US) and both of my parents have greencards. My sister applied for my greencard in 2000. The application was not processed until 2005. It was approved, but I was on a waiting list for another 5 years. I just got off the waiting list last month and am hoping I’ll get it by the end of the year.

    I don’t say this to discourage you, but just to explain to everyone else that even if you do everything legally like I did, it doesn’t magically mean that the transition will be smooth. I never wanted to get married for residency (I only wanted to get married once!) even though I had a handful of friends who offered. But sometimes I wonder how much easier it would have been if I had. I would definitely be further ahead in my career!! That’s a choice that only you can make.

    I think your best bet is to go to a good school (try pay the least that you can, but still have a good school on your resume). Take a year off if you need to to apply for any additional scholarships that you may have missed. It will be a lot easier to apply for an H1-B than for a student visa, especially when you have a good school under your belt. I can say that the times I was considered for a sponsorship or grad school, the Stern background helped me get my foot in the door.

    Good luck! Don’t give up! I know it can be very disheartening to see your peers get ahead so easily, thinking you could do the same or even better in their place. But hopefully you get lucky and have immigration reform change your odds by the time you get out of school. Worst case scenario, there are many multinationals in Mexico or other South American countries who crave smart, U.S. educated, bilingual employees. I’m not sure where you are from, but assuming you are from South America, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Brazil are your best bets in terms of multinationals. Again, the best of luck!!

  52. Juan, you should be proud of what you have accomplished. Unfortunately, you are being plagued and punished by a decision your parents made years ago. They rolled the dice hoping you would get the “American Dream” that they wanted for you. There’s little to nothing you can do about that.

    However, there is a lot you can do about at least moving your education ahead. Under the California Dream Act, you can attend Community College in the state of California, and you will receive the resident tuition rate, which is a ridiculously cheap $26/unit. I don’t know if you would qualify for a BOG Waiver, but check with financial aid.

    Community colleges get a bad rap, but here’s something to think about: at a huge number of the so-called “better” schools, your 100- and 200-level classes will be taught by Grad Students. These are students who have a BA and are working on their Masters. For most academic subjects, you will almost never see anything less than a teacher with a Masters teaching at a Community College. You will be taught by more educated, skilled and committed teachers at the Community College.

    Also, if you join the honors program, the honors society and perform well at the Community College level (which certainly you will), you will distinguish yourself and if you are a standout, may get the opportunity to apply for the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship, which offers 2 years free ride (up to $30K a year, I believe) for undergrad, as well as undergrads can apply for their Masters scholarships. All of this, in addition to many other scholarships offered to Community College students.

    By pursuing this strategy, you have time to talk to a lawyer and see what you can do about starting the process to become legal. Your education will continue to move ahead. And you will have more distinctions that will help you stand out and possibly get full-ride scholarships which are available for Community College transfers.

    Best of success to you!

  53. How can you say that “No one is illegal” ?!? A LAW is a LAW!! If you break it you are illegal!!! It’s simple!!!

  54. I completely support students who happen to be illegal aliens. I hope that an amnesty soon passes for them.. in fact I am a proud supporter of the dream act. I encourage illegal aliens to continue their education because I believe educated people can bring the most change.

  55. *sigh* Illegal immigration.

    I agree with everyone who has posted, “GO BECOME A CITIZEN.” However, I don’t think you should go back to Mexico. You’ll probably get killed by drug lords. I advise you to marry a friend for citizenship. If it takes a little bit of time between, defer HM & work for that period. You’ll have to work and get paid under the table, but unfortunately, that is because your parents did not bring you to the States legally.

    As the child of legal immigrants, I understand why people want to come to the US. However, this also rings a bit unfair to me. Juan’s lucky to be Hispanic- they get the affirmative action benefit for school. My parents, both Asian, worked very hard and waited for quite a bit before they were allowed to come here. The only reason Juan’s parents are here is because of the proximity of the US to Mexico. If Mexico were located in Asia, or even Europe, I highly doubt illegal immigration from the Hispanic areas would be an issue.

    I have no sympathy for illegal immigration.

  56. Marie Kelly,
    I don’t think you realize how difficult it is to become a U.S. citizen. I’m sorry that you aren’t able to recieve financial aid (neither am I, but that’s why I’m working 2 jobs!) , but have you looked at Juan’s situation where he can not get a job to pay for his school? I’m assuming that you are not going to pay off all of your school with cash, yet that is what would be expected of Juan since he can not take out any school loans. And although he has the opportunity to attend a community college, it would be very disappointing for him to give up the opportunity he was given at the 4 year University. To become a U.S. citizen is extremely difficult, especially those from Mexico because they are put on a waiting list according to which country they are coming from. Since, Juan was brought here illegally, it is even more difficult and expensive, might I add. Also, I don’t think his parents didn’t try. I believe they brought him here for a better future. However hard you may think you have it because you have to pay taxes for these “illegal immigrants”, think about how hard they have it. To be quite honest with you, I want Juan to get aid from the government, because we need more hard working and educated people in this country!

  57. Such harsh words! Juan may be the engineer who designs a medical device to save your child’s life. Would you wish him away so easily then? Judge not lest you be judged just as harshly.Spitting on the sidewalk is a crime. Almost all of us are criminals. Juan actually wants to be legal without actually sacrificing his life to do it. It is difficult enough to get a student visa. He would have to admit he was in the US illegally and that he really has no ties to Mexico (which is one of the criteria for getting a student Visa becuase they want to ensure that you return to Mexico at the end of your studies). When he applies for a student Visa in all likelihood he will be denied.

    Juan, your situation is quite complicated but very typical. I am a legal International student so I know quite a bit about the process. You may well have to postpone things for a year (not to “become legal” because we know that process takes years and you have to return to a country you do not know with no guarantee that you will get a student visa) but to find somewhere that will give you a full ride regardless of your status. You are talented and deserve the opportunity. And ultimately marriage will be your best bet at getting your green card and eventually citizenship (unless they pass that Dream Act soon). By the time you get to grad school I am sure you will find some lovely girl to make you legal (hope you are not gay because until the federal government legalizes gay marriage that won’t work 🙂 Good luck and my prayers are with you.

  58. I know this is not a political blog but I can’t help but think that so many of the responses here demonstrate that some people get what is lawful mixed up with what is just or right. Juan is here illegally. People with intelligence and just a little bit of moral imagination, though, can understand that he is in a situation not of his own creation, he has worked hard to get where he is, and deserves to be treated 1) with respect, and 2) fairly by the legal system. Only people with the critical thinking skills and moral capacity of a guinea pig would say that forcing Juan back to Mexico is the “right” thing to do.

  59. Stinks to be you Juan…. I suppose if your parents would have been more concerned with your well being….they would have attempted to become legal citizens in the first place, sparing you from your current situation. You are taking the spot that a legal citizen could have. You should go back to your country of residence and apply for a visiting student visa or apply for citizenship.

  60. Juan,
    First of all, congratulations on you academic abilities. I’m in the same situation you are in. Many people have commented the you (and I) should not be merited for the work we do here because we were brought here illegally. In my case, my parents brought me here when I was three years. My whole academic career has been in the U.S. And to be honest, I didn’t know I was here “illegally” until I started looking into college information my junior year in high school. I graduated #10 in my h.s. class and got a big scholarship from a private school in my state, Texas. I was also awarded a small Texas grant by filing a “TAFSA.”
    For those of you who ignorantly believe that undocumented people don’t pay taxes, and therefore have no right to claim aid….let me brighten up your world. There are MILLIONS of undocumented people who yearly pay their federal, state, and property taxes. And also, I know a lot of people who have come here illegally and began a business of their own (while they’re were still undocumented), creating jobs and revenue for the country. I would recommend that all of us get more informed about our country before being the first ones to throw the stone!
    And to those of you who advice Juan to go back to his native country….um, think about it! How many of you have been raised in one country, with different language, society, and culture and then were forced to a country in which you know nothing of? I have seen many undocumented students, myself being one of them, that have been raised in the U.S and don’t even know how to speak Spanish well or at all! I, personally, don’t know much about my native country. Moving back would be more of a challenge than living here.

    Anywho, back to academics. Juan, I had to go to a community college because private school wasn’t too much for my bugdet. And like you, I can’t get a decent job or internship to pay for tuition myself. Maybe that’s a route you’re willing to take. I am now a junior at a small public school. Though, this last year has been really tough economically and, back to the same reason, I had to take a year off from school; but I was able to get back to school this summer.

    Juan, I truly recommend you do ALOT of more research. I am “stuck” right now in my junior year partially because I was misled and didn’t research enough information before making my decisions. I will graduate in a year, but I have no idea what I’ll be able to do with such degree. I truly pray that we are given the opportunity to show our government of how much we love this country and formalize our citizenship. Because as you and I know, we are just American as any other person who lives in this country.

    Well, that was a long load to take in! But I’ll pray that doors will open soon, from anywhere!

  61. This is such a huge problem nowadays. We have so many bright, intelligent students trying to make a better life for themselves and their family. Unfortunately, there is that problem of being undocumented. I say undocumented because I don’t believe that saying that are illegal is adequate. While I agree that certain laws are broken, ultimately, sometimes the student may not have had a say in the decision of entering the United States illegally. Being one of those undocumented students in the US has brought along many issues. Waking up somedays just feels like there’s no hope in the future anymore. So, Juan, I know what you mean about “giving up” on dreams.

    More on the situation… I do have to say that it would be better to wait, get your thoughts together and plan better. I know things were pressured while you were in high school. If you take some time off to think and make plans, I think things could actually work out. I plan on getting myself back in college somewhere…anywhere this upcoming year. Believe me, I tried every single route I could think of. There may be one other thing you could do, but that requires a US Citizen or Permanent Resident Co-signer. And I’m sure you don’t want $100,000+ of student loan debt. Maybe the government will do something about it. Maybe they won’t. Who knows.
    I also know that many people keep telling us to find an Attorney to settle the status issue. Well, who exactly is gonna pay for that? They aren’t exactly cheap. Even if you did find one, you would still have to wait 7-15 years to get a Green Card or Citizenship. I know, I’ve been waiting it out for 13 now.

  62. Marie Kelly… I agree with your message…but it is hard to believe that you “have also been accepted to a top university and I also got excellent grades, a high SAT score” when you don’t seem to know the difference between “then” and “than.”

  63. Miguel Zapata

    There are some resources you should definately look into:

    1) Check out they have a listings of scholarships that do not require immigration status.
    2) There is a bay area organization called Educators For Fair Consideration, they also published a list of scholarships that do not require citizenship.

    3) One key suggestion that I would like to give you is that you should definately consider if going to a top school will actually help you. Some student end up being so limited in their activities/internships in private school that they end not developing a strong resume.

    On the other hand I’ve worked with many student in the CSU college system that are breaking all barriers even if they are undocumented. Public schools tend to be a bit more progressive.

    Also you may want to get in touch with some AB540 organization in California that are based in the UC or CSU campuses. They have tons of connections.

    Si se puede!

  64. I forgot to mention that lots of kids want to “study abroad” these days.

    Wouldn’t going to a university in Mexico be like studying abroad for Juan? Is there some reason why Juan cannot study in a “foreign” country (Mexico)?

    It seems to me that it would be simpler to go to university in the country of his citizenship, unless there are things that I’m not aware of.

  65. I am in the exact same place as Juan right now, so I know his pain. I’m an undocumented immigrant who recently graduated with scores and grades that would have allowed me to pretty pick and choose which college I wanted to attend. Five University of California campuses guaranteed me admission, but I couldn’t go because there was no way for me to afford it.

    Luckily for me, the state of California allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates if they have been attending school in the state for 3 or more years and have graduated from a California high school. Several other states have similar laws, so Juan should look into whether his state is doing what California is doing and if he qualifies. If so, then Juan can remain in state and attend a cheaper school. In my situation, I’ll be attending a Cal-State paying full tuition and staying at home, hoping for scholarships here and there to alleviate costs.

    Juan, DO NOT wait a year. Attending community college might be a really tough pill to swallow for a super accomplished student like you, but it could be your only option. While you’re attending a CC, you could be researching private universities that offer attractive scholarships/financial aid programs. You can always transfer; you shouldn’t waste time waiting for something to happen. Why wait when you could be getting an education and getting your GE requirements out of the way?

    Some people here are suggesting that Juan leave the U.S. to study elsewhere. It’s not that easy. He moved here when he was 7, so he grew up here and his heart is in America. He’s built a life here, and you guys are telling him to leave it all behind as if it’s so easy. It’s not. Furthermore, if he leaves the country now, he won’t be allowed to return for at least ten years. What about his parents?

    Juan, do everything possible to get your education. It doesn’t have to be from a prestigious school yet. Who knows? By the time you get your AA or BA, the DREAM Act might pass and you’ll get into a wonderful graduate school! Do everything you can now.
    Even if no immigration reform passes, you can always find an American employer that would sponsor you. It’s not impossible.

    Keep working hard. Contact immigration organizations and DREAM Act organizations because they know people who can help you. You’re helping break down stereotypes against illegal immigrants, and I’m proud of you! Don’t let haters get you down!

  66. Juan, I understand that nothing that I could say, or that it could be said in this blog, can make you feel any better, because I’ve been there where u are now. There are so many thoughts in my head that I’ll try hard to address you only, because you are the one that needs the advice, not the other kids that try to share their ignorant comments to this blog that (please) should be kept clean and educational.
    1. Juan, you probably already know that, since your parents brought you here without a visa, and they crossed the border illegally, then not even MARRIAGE could change your status. There is no way to fix your situation unless some kind of law is made that helps people with your same problem. Which won’t happen in a long time (way more than 4 yrs).
    2. Like Josh said, there is no time for blaming no one, that’s for losers. And you, my friend, are not that at all, you have achieved a lot Juan, and you must always remember that a knowledgeable human being is useful ANYWHERE in the world.
    3. You know this already:”If life gives you lemons, then make some lemonade”. Don’t dream to achieve too big if right now you can’t. Go to a smaller, cheaper college, keep building up your knowledge, and don’t let the thought of “what do I now that I graduated?” stop your decisions in the present. Yes, is hard to ask someone to not think about that, but you are just 18, do the right decision, and then future will be good.
    4. I don’t know how the laws in California are, but here in NY if you graduate with a HS diploma in here, one could pay in-state tuition, which is half of the out-state tuition. So, maybe there is something similar in your state. If not, then you can still apply to private scholarships, and get some part of the money on your own, and pay a cheap school.
    5. The idea of getting professional help on immigration is very good, so you might want to save some money for that, but be careful and don’t get cheated, because(to my best knowledge, and know a lot about this topic by experience) there is no way that I know that could change your status, you cannot apply for a visa while living inside the US, the only way is leaving and waiting for 10 years.
    6. People who reside in the US illegally CAN and DO pay taxes. Simply by getting a ITIN number, that allows you to pay taxes as a independent worker. Most of them choose to pay taxes this way because proof of paying taxes is CRUCIAL at the interview for legalization. So, add that to your vast knowledge PEOPLE.
    Juan, good luck in whatever you decide to do, I’m sure you’ll choose properly. Keep your head up at all times. And please do got go college. God bless.

  67. I was in a similar situation a year ago.
    I found that going to a private school is definitely the better option because they don’t have to report back to the state and can therefore give you funding. They can even give you funding based on financial need if they accept the CSS profile. It’s a sort of replacement for the FAFSA and many private schools accept it. Here’s a link.
    The CSS profile is how I got about $20,000 in aid on top of my merit scholarships.
    Also, while it may seem a bit iffy, it’s not that big of a deal to talk to the counselors about the situation. Most will be glad to help. If you’re really hung up about it, you can have a counselor at your high school (or someone else you trust) call in your place and ask if the college can offer you any options.

  68. Brilliant is brilliant wherever you are. Illegal is illegal. Some form of amnesty should be offered, because the young man had no say in what his parents did. When the rules are broken, all hell may break loose. There has to be a comprehensive solution to this question, for it has reached epidemic propotions, years ago. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

  69. Congratulations on your achievements, Juan. The position you’re in academically is really something to be proud of, and you’ve worked very hard under stressful conditions to get where you are. You deserve to be here. Please take the handful of prejudiced and hateful comments above in stride. Unfortunately, you’re at the center of a heated political issue through no fault of your own. It sounds like your parents are hard-working people who have done their best to give you opportunities they didn’t have. Honor them by pursuing your education here.

    I, as the daughter of fully legal immigrants, have faced bigotry for speaking other languages and have put up with the ignorance of those who take their American citizenship for granted. Go figure. In the long run, everything my parents passed onto me as a result of their heritage and their struggles as immigrants in this country has been an asset.

    To those who posted discriminatory remarks above, who among you actually feel you earned your American citizenship? I certainly didn’t work hard for mine. It was the result of actions my parents took some time ago. So, why should Juan have to jump through hoops for his? He didn’t have a choice when he was a kid, and moving to a country that’s now essentially foreign to him isn’t much of a solution. Finally, to those of you so concerned about Juan’s taking someone else’s place at Harvey Mudd or any other college in this country, rest assured, he earned his very own place, just ask the admissions committee at Harvey Mudd.

    Anyway, Juan, back to the meat of your problem. I’m not one to advocate the easy route (God knows I have more student loans than I know what to do with) but I’m going to go ahead and advocate the easy route. Marriage. It’s not as hard as it looks. It takes about an hour, and I know quite a few people who have entered into arrangements with American friends for citizenship. If you’re concerned about ruining the sanctity of marriage, don’t sweat it, people have been doing that for years in this country and abroad.

    Do you have a trustworthy, female friend who happens to be an American citizen and would be willing to marry you? If so, head over to City Hall and get hitched. Defer your admission to Harvey Mudd for a year if possible, and get busy applying for scholarships. The Hispanic Scholarship Fund has some pretty awesome scholarships that might just get you through the Harvey Mudd pickle once you’ve married that special girl. I’d offer to marry you myself, but I just got married, and bigamy is also illegal in this country. Shucks.

    Whatever you do, don’t go back to Mexico unless you have some sort of support system there and are prepared to a) spend years in a foreign country and b) live without seeing your parents for a very long time. Also, I do think it would really be to your advantage to have American citizenship during and out of college so you can partake in internships while at school and start working in your field right out of the gate (if not while in school). Also, do yourself a favor and go for the 5 year masters.

    There. I’ve planned out the next six years of your life for you. Now, go! Live!

  70. Juan and everyone else empathizing with him, leaving my opinion of illegal immigrants out of this, there is another way. There are at least eight states, primarily on the east coast, that offer scholarships specifically for illegal immigrants such as yourselves. I can’t name those states for you since this is not a scholarship I qualify for. It is only one that you can apply for. Even legal immigrants or exchange students do not qualify for these scholarships. I know this to be fact. It will take some research to find, but it is not impossible. Privately funded schools may not offer these scholarships, naturally they have their own. I don’t want you to give up hope yet although it may be too late to apply for this semester. You will have time to research such schools and find one that is best for you. =)

    About your injury…I met someone who played foot ball all through high school. He hurt his foot goofing off near graduation time, before or after, I’m not sure. Naturally, devistation set in. However the state soon issued him a full right to the college of his choice. This is something you could also check out. It may not be a possibility for you, but you won’t know until you try.

  71. Seriously, if you entered the country legally, you wouldn’t have had this issue. Become a legal citizen or as everyone wants to sugar coat it ‘”documented” and you’ll get there a lot easier. You’re smart, so taking a year off shouldn’t be a huge setback. Also, Marie Kelly pretty much sumed it up. You go girl! I couldn’t agree more! I’m proud to be an american, illegals shouldn’t get benefits that legal citizens can’t even get. Danielle, you’re what makes this country the communist nation it’s turning into… you should be proud…

  72. First of all, I am NOT the same Sarah who commented earlier. Just wanted to put that out there before I continue. 🙂

    Here is my biggest concern: if you go to school for engineering, where will you work when you are done with school? I do not mean this to be disheartening; I simply fear that finding a job will be unnecessarily difficult, if not impossible, given your undocumented status. Businesses fear getting in legal trouble for hiring undocumented aliens, especially big businesses. Would you attempt to work in the US (knowing you could risk being reported by a coworker or the company itself, when they find out about your status), or try to find work in Mexico while working on your citizenship? Would it be safer to try to find an engineering school in Mexico, if there is one? This is something to think about before you make your decision about life after high school. I don’t want to see an email from you on here telling Judge Josh that someone reported you and you had to return to a country you barely lived in. 🙁

    I wish I had more positive things to tell you. Those who come here as children really do get the worst of it! It is not as if you or they had any choice in the matter, and perhaps your parents felt they had no choice either. People who were born and raised in the US have no idea how difficult the process of gaining citizenship is, even for those who have lived here–legally or otherwise. (It’s no cakewalk for US citizens trying to move elsewhere, either.) I wish you the best of luck, though, and hope that the broken system is fixed soon. At the VERY least, those who come here as children deserve to have some light at the end of the tunnel.

  73. Education or not, employment is going to be very difficult (if not impossible) for an illegal immigrant. Maybe there should be some easier route to become legal, but the fact is that you are correct in that employment – the reason your going to an engineering school – is dependent on a worker visa. I am sure that the worker visa application is going to get flagged because you obviously were here illegally not only as a child, but voluntarily as an adult.

  74. hmmmm… For those who are attacking Juan for being an illegal “alien” due to the fact his parents brought him to the US when he was young but yet suggest he marry a citizen for the purpose of obtaining legal residency is this not illegal as well? I see… that makes sense… Solve one illegal act with another…
    However, I do think he should perhaps look into the opportunities that may be available to him in Mexico where he will be legal and can apply for financial aid. In addition to pursuing the LEGAL options to come into the US.
    Nonetheless, (although I know this not a political blog whatsoever, lol) just because this is the way things are, doesn’t mean it’s how they should be… He has lived in the US for the majority of his life. This doesn’t make him any less worthy of the scholarships that he has worked so hard to merit.
    You should be proud of who you are Juan. Your hard work will pay off eventually. You are without a doubt a very intelligent man and I’m sure you will figure something out! 🙂

  75. Do whatever it takes to get your citizenship. Many high school students and adults ranging in age from their 20’s to 60’s who live in my neighborhood have done all the necessary requirements to become citizens. You have the intelligence, and mastery of English, if you love this country, you will first thing tomorrow get started on the road to becoming a citizen! I am the author of two recommendations to the INS for two of my neighbors who were sponsored by friends and family who also were immigrants from Asian countries. You likely have high school teachers, coaches, neighbors and your friends parents who can complete info on your character for the INS. Once this speed bump is out of your way, all things will fall into place. Treat this as a gap year before entering college. Let the college know you are taking a gap year, this is not uncommon. My daughter did this to scrutinize colleges closer and work to have an emergency fund. As a mom, of a son and a daughter, I am going to mom you and tell you to man up and do the right thing, follow the rule of law. You aren’t the first in this pickle and hopefully in the future there will be less young people in this situation. I look forward to reading another email to Josh letting us know you have become a citizen!!

  76. Juan you are an excellent representation of all Dreamers in the U.S. My only advice to you is to is to never lose that drive to achieve your dreams. If you do that, then you’ll make it; it doesn’t matter if it is in a year or in five. Everything is possible.

    I also have to say this:
    I seriously cannot understand how can people blame undocumented students for their status and situation so easily by telling them “it’s YOUR problem,” “YOU should have gone back to your country,” and better yet “if YOU had entered the country legally, you wouldn’t have had this problem”….that they forget for just a second that these undocumented young adults came to the U.S.A (the melting pot as it was once called) while they were still MINORS. You mean to tell me it was THEIR fault that they didn’t run away from home while they were in high school, middle school, or better yet elementary school so they could go back to their mother country and then make THEMSELVES legal? Or that it was THEIR fault they did not stop their parents from migrating here? at the age of two? I’m sorry, I must have forgotten that children can now make decision for themselves even if they are only 2 years old. I can assure you most of these kids were more busy being like any other American kid, studying, making friends, and well just being kids during their childhood years than worrying if they had papers or not. As you can see in Juan’s case he came here when he was seven, and all I can remember from that point in my life is going to school and playing with my friends….yup.. you’re so right….shame on Juan for not telling his parents to go back to Mexico at the age of 7…..or stopping them from coming here…..

    Now others will obviously blame the parents and say it’s their fault their child is going through it….surprisingly as it may be, i agree, technically it is their fault they are here today, but unless you experienced what made them make that final decision that probably seemed as their only way out at the moment, you cannot judge them and tell them they deserve what they are going through now. It’s like telling a student who enlisted in the army so he could study without paying and came back home disabled after serving, “well, who told you to go there in the first place, it’s Your fault you’re like this now.” See a connection? You don’t know what he went through to make that decision, so you cannot judge.
    Also don’t expect their children to blame their parents for wanting to give their children a better future than they had, seriously, who can hate their parents for trying to be, well, parents to them? These parents probably sacrificed themselves for their children in that decision, so a child telling his parent “why did you have to think of me before you?” most likely won’t happen.

    I understand though there are many rotten immigrants out there who have damaged the image of humble immigrants, who just want to achieve the dream, and made their appearance rotten to everyone (terrorists, drug dealers, you name them) that now we don’t even bother to listen to the stories of these tainted people, and instead we just associate them, or better yet, group them with rotten immigrants as well (Sherrod case anyone?) Let’s just hope one day we don’t regret shutting our ears in the future as much as Vilsack regretted shutting his.

    Life is not all black and white; we can actually think now….

  77. Go back to Mexico (temporarily) and apply for a student visa, and work towards becoming a legal citizen. Then there are no problems. You may have to wait a semester for the visa to come through, but you still get in, and you do it legally.

  78. Juan should get a job like the rest of us and pay for college. Why should he get US citizen benefits when he is not a US citizen? It comes down to this, do you want to pay for his education? The more illegal immigrants that are given benefits that are supposed to be for legal US citizens, the higher yours and my taxes. Once Juan is legal and pays his own taxes, it shouldn’t be a problem to get through college cheap with all the scholarships out there for minorities. Maybe we should get some scholarships out there for white people too.

    1. I’m a white, working American citizen, and I get a TON of scholarships. Just FYI.

      Also, I would gladly pay half of my income or more in taxes to give brilliant people like Juan an opportunity at a better life. And yes, I have been in that tax bracket. The US can’t be the “shining city on the hill” without employing the best and the brightest from ALL nations.

  79. Hey, the term illegal alien is extremely offensive. No human is illegal, and alien is a harsh word. Why put such a negative label on someone?

  80. Admit first- I stopped reading the comments since there was so many and someone may have already suggested this however:

    1) Contact the Senator and Representatives in your state. They might be able to help, or use your story to help get the DREAM act passed. Senators can move mountains and help get the ball rolling.

    2)What about other countries? Could you apply to go to school internationally? In a country where you speak the language? If you are going to have a lot of problems working in the US later in life, then a US degree might not be the best option for you. You could look into different schools that might help you get a student visa and be just as good as some US schools. That would get you out of the US for a bit and you could start applying for legal status in the US to possibly try for grad school here. India is an up and coming education market that has a good partnership with the US and has amazing students there. (You can speak English and learn a new language).

    I am not just suggesting that you get up and leave your home and get out of the US, but rather believe that an international education is very important to anyone. I understand that leaving home might be difficult to you- and contacting home once you leave might be more difficult, but just wanted to suggest an alternative solution.

  81. Juan,

    I deal with this kind of thing all the time and I have personal experience with it. I’m going to tell you exactly what you should do and I’m also going to correct some of these ignorant commentators.

    Except for marrying an American citizen, there is no way for Juan to become legal within the next 7-10 years. It doesn’t matter how hard he tries, how many lawyers he consults with, it doesn’t matter what he does. At this point, he will not be able to receive citizenship or a green card.

    Juan will not be taking anyone’s place and will not be getting a free ride. He will be receiving merit aid which means that he deserved it, if an “American” could do better then they would receive it. Because of the way our tax system is set up, income taxes do not go to support institutions of higher learning, property taxes and sales taxes do. If Juan’s parents rent, then their landlord’s property taxes are built into their monthly payments. If Juan buys anything at all, and I’m sure he does, then he’s been paying sales tax for years. Basically, he’s been paying for American citizens to attend state schools for free.

    Here’s what you need to do.
    Go to community college if you can afford to make the payments in full. You may be eligible for some outside scholarships to help you out. Meanwhile, try to transfer to schools that may be sympathetic, look for schools with large endowments and with mostly “white” students.

    DO NOT take any time off. Time is of the essence for you. Your parents brought you here so you can have a better life than theirs, don’t let this situation waste their efforts.

    If you marry an American girl that you meet in college then great, you’ll be ok, otherwise, there are still more options.

    An American education, especially in engineering, is sometimes worth more outside of the US than inside. You’re young, multicultural, bilingual, intelligent, and with a masters in engineering from an American school, you’ll be able to land a high paying job outside of the US. When you do that, start the process of immigrating to the US legally, it will take years, but with a higher education degree from an American school, you’ll get it without a doubt.

    You’ll make so much money, tax free, that you may not even want to come back to the US. I know engineers in the Persian Gulf that make 200K a year and say that their American citizenship is holding them back because they have to pay taxes on whatever they earn over 80K.

  82. Juan, I have little sound advice to offer you, but I do want to wish you luck. Living in Arizona, I have many friends in similar situations and I am disheartened by the naivety of some of these comments. Obtaining citizenship is hardly even a feasible option for Juan or any other illegal immigrant in the present political climate. Look at the laws that are being passed…and marriage–well, long gone are the days of simply marrying a citizen and getting legal status. I have a friend who has 3 children with an illegal who was brought to this country when he was 8 and they were legally married here in AZ. The mountains of paperwork she had to file and ship off to Chicago, California, etc…did no good. He will not be granted citizenship now and was deported to Mexico to wait (for up to 10 years) for legal approval. In the meantime, his children are growing up without their willing father regularly present and his wife gets no help save the little monies he sends her from Mexico. Let me tell you- as a single mother with a “baby daddy’s who is an American citizen and completely worthless otherwise including as a provider and role model, I am totally disappointed that such a good person has to struggle so hard to simply be a part of his family.
    So clearly that route is not viable…
    Honestly, I’d investigate the scholarship options and see what programs out east, where anti-immigration sentiments don’t run so hot, might facilitate your success. As disheartening as it may be to turn down the elite school, the truth is successful professionals come from state and small private colleges as well, and after completion of your BS and, hopefully, graduate school, some real and effective immigration reform policies will have been enacted that afford you a real shot at getting legal status in this country.

  83. Juan,
    Estados Unidos no es el unico pais donde se puede vivir bien en el mundo. Eres muy inteligente… has buscado por becas en Inglaterra o en Espania? Estudiar en Espania es muy barato… con lo que pagas aqui un semestre, pagas en Espania toda tu carrera. No tengas miedo. Tu puedes ir solo a estudiar en otro pais, por casi nada de dinero. Si trabajas aqui un anio, tendras suficiente dinero para estudiar en otro pais. Y despues, si todavia quieres, puedes aplicar a un trabajo en Estados Unidos… y lo aceptas solo si te parece mejor que vivir en Europa.
    Un abrazo fuerte

  84. He should work his hardest to become a legal resident. I don’t think he should get a full ride or government assistance unless he’s a US citizen. Some people may think that I am mean or harsh but I think government grants should be given to US citizens. I am an unmarried student with no children. I don’t make very much, I don’t even work full time. I don’t submit my parents information either. It’s all off of my yearly income. Yet I get denied for grants every year. I keep reappling in hopes of something changing. Unless something changes I have to continue to pay for school all on my own. So why then should a non-citizen receive benifits that a citizen can’t?

  85. Here’s one comment not dealing with the immigration or even the general situation. 🙂 I’m responding to Judge Josh’s offhanded comment that he almost never advises people to work and save for college because the costs are usually way too high. I just happen to know of a family of four boys, all of whom began working as soon as the state law allowed, and all of whom did in fact earn enough money to pay for all four years of school (and in one boy’s case, all the way through law school as well). So it’s not quite as bad of a situation – I think you just have to get started working very early. Which requires some real motivation before age 18. Which I realize is very rare – but should it be so rare?

  86. Get married.

    Being a citizen would certainly help you, but “going back” anywhere is a terrible idea. If you have a girlfriend, or even a close female friend who’d be willing to go through it with you, fill out the paperwork for marriage instead.

    It’s easier and much faster than doing it any other way; you don’t even have to stay married after you get your status if you don’t actually want to. That way, you can get your citizenship quickly enough for it to actually help.

    Otherwise, find a private school that will give you a full ride, even if it isn’t your dream school, and make plans for becoming a citizen later. If you do that, though, remember that you still will need citizenship eventually. You’d just be postponing the inevitable battle.

  87. I know that it is hard to become legal in this country. So it’s pointless to even say all of that crap. I think Juan’s best bet is going out of the country. I know this is a dumb question, but does Mexico not have good schools? If not, there are other countries on this planet besides the United States. I know Juan probably wants to stay with his family, but if he legally goes to another country it might be easier for him to come back to the states legally. And with a degree.

  88. Every year, 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools. Juan’s best bet is to not give up, go to school and obtain his degree as quickly as possible. Come to UCLA and I promise you you’ll find a support group that will help you in your journey (Not that this is the only school where you’ll find that support, but IDEAS at UCLA is pretty legit 🙂

    Help us pass the DREAM Act this year (and this goes out to everyone reading)- check out for more info on the progress of our advocacy efforts nationwide and how you can help right a growing injustice.

    We are UNDOCUMENTED and UNAFRAID. Our Dreams will no longer be deferred.

    Much love,

    Sofia (4th year undocumented student at UCLA)

  89. Well I don’t know what state Juan is living in, but I live in California, and I know what he’s going through because I went through the same thing after graduating high school in 2008. Luckily for me, California has this amazing law that states that if you completed high school in California, you can attend college and pay for school as a resident. With amazing grades like Juan seems to have, his best bet is probably to find a private school that is not as prestigious as Harvey Mudd, but will still give him a full ride. However, the worst thing Juan can do is give up. Good luck with everything!




  91. Maria, if what you say about California law is true, then this is perfect for Juan!.. It works exactly the same in NY.
    Juan, then your best option is too manage to pay a cheap school, and after you graduate with excellent grades, find the way to use your knowledge for the benefit of another country that can really appreciate your math skills… there are plenty of opportunities out there, I’m sure…. Also while you study, many things could happen, but just don’t take any time off…
    -@ Pedro: I thought that if a person entered the US illegally, there was nothing (not even marriage) that could change his status WHILE living inside the US… I don’t know what kind of experience you have, but I’ll try to research on this (if you can give me a link, it would be awesome, thanks!)

  92. Joseph Garcia

    what about sport scholarships for illegal immigrant students? I run XC and track and i have been offered some scholarships but am i able to take them even if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

  93. Oh man, some of the comments on this post are excruciating! People are so willing to show how certain they stand on an issue they do not comprehend. Have all the fascist “God save us from the Left” folk forgotten that Jesus, whether the story is fiction or fact, was an immigrant? Not that the rest of their worldview is biblical, haha. Anyways…

    I have lots of respect for immigrants, documented or not, who make their way through the college system. It is not easy to be an international student in the U.S. I work with the international programs office at Boise State, and many of those students are scraping to get by. Try doing that on a mid-level US salary? No way.

    Keep your head up, if you are talented and creative nothing will keep you from your goals. It just might take a little more time and effort than it will for your citizen counterparts.

  94. @Nadia
    I live in Miami, I know people that came here illegally, and after years married an American and then were able to receive American citizenship, but it’s not automatic. There are many interviews that you have to go through, it’s definitely not an easy process right now. My immigration lawyer told me that she’s seen legitimate marriages denied, and even though the couple are really husband and wife, they have to leave the US and reapply after a year.

    Marriage is a serious thing, I don’t recommend making a mockery of it by marrying someone just for papers, I also don’t recommend lying to the Department of Homeland Security interviewer. If Juan just happens to meet someone in college and wants to get married then that will be great, otherwise, an American education in Engineering will go a really long way abroad.

  95. @Pedro: I agree that is serious and I don’t recommend that Juan choose this option.
    The best solution for you, Juan, seems to be to go to a cheap college in your state, get private scholarships, and find a way to pay the rest on your own. Just don’t stop studying, please.

  96. I am in the same situation.
    Remember, friend, that you are not alone. I immigrated to the US with my parents when I was 6 MONTHS old. (Did I have a choice? hah) And yes, we immigrated Legally. However, after my parents divorced, things became complicated and now my family has become undocumented. This is happened, though, AFTER several attempts of renewing our right to continue residing here in the US. No, we didn’t any crimes or got into troubles to prove to the gov’t why we SHOULDN’T stay.

    Immigration is just not that nice. and getting a green card/citizenship just isn’t that simple or easily done. Sadly, the process has become terribly made difficult after 9/11. I think, after all the cases or friends and family that I have seen around me, attaining citizenship or a greencard can only come with those options of marriage, etc OR pure luck. (friends and family have received greencards from The “lottery” and such, fyi)

    I have lived here for more than 16 years… and I am now 19.

    Juan DON’T give up.
    You are brilliant and you can only abuse that brilliance by giving up.
    THERE ARE ways. because there are PEOPLE who can help.
    maybe not gov’t right now, but put your faith (carefully) in people and you will see….

    I am proof of this: I received a full-tuition scholarship to attend my local community college. And my plan after this, is to transfer to a top art school to receive my bachelor’s and SAVE MONEY in the end.
    Till then, I DO have 2 years to “worry” about my status…
    But I also have 2 years to do what I can while waiting, that is, ATTEND school and SAVE money and meet more people who will help me by opening doors for scholarships, etc.

    Juan, my advice to you is 1. don’t lose hope.
    Instead, 2. work on making good relationships with people… because you NEVER know who can help you with getting extra scholarships, and giving you more information on things you can do while you wait.

    3. Volunteer. Be a human being and put that on your resume, along with your brilliance in your high SAT scores,etc.

    I believe that Obama will shed light on the immigration issue and think of kids like us. I believe this because he has seen first-hand LIFE in another country (my country, iNDONESIA!) and he has lived a life that isn’t so easy with getting an education (living with a single mom and a step-father in a different country)…

    Have faith Juan, and use your faith to be productive while you wait.
    What do I think is NOT worth it?
    — > moaning and groaning in hopelessness, and putting your talent, brilliance, and HEART to waste.

    remember, there are people who would KILL just to be HERE in the US.

  97. hey juan!! don’t give up. we can do it. I am on your same situation, just keep working hard. you can go to CC then transfer. Read bout people on our same situation that now they are so famous in science field. don’t take a year off. You will take the same classes at CC or prestigious university the first two years.

  98. I almost wasn’t able to go to college because of the same circumstance. I live in Louisiana and TOPS is offered to qualifying students for 4 years- with help of that scholarship I will pay less than $1000 per semester in fees to my university (LSU). I qualified for a high level of this scholarship and it could have been wasted. However, what is sad is that not many people realize just how difficult it is to become a citizen. I waited for 10 years and paid nearly $12,000 in fees and after so much paperwork and even medical exams, I have barely become a Permanent Alien- which means I still have to wait 5 years and go through another process to become a citizen. Don’t lose hope, I know the agony of your situation, but hang in there and make us (hispanics) proud! I think you have done your part in pursuing happiness, so you deserve whatever grants other people citizens or not are ineligible for.

  99. I have also been (actually still am, in that same situatioin) Juan. I am now on my second year of college, even though at one point I also thought it would be hopeless. Though I know it will be near impossible to have a carreer without a legal status, I decided to try it. I am currently going to a private design school, however, I am only doing one class at a time. I took gen-eds at my community college seeing as that was significantly cheaper: one class at the private school payed for a semester of full time at community college. So I have lowered my expectations a bit, I will do an associates (for now) and take it slow, pay for what I can, work for each class at a time. You know it feels nice to do at least part of what you wished to do instead of abandoning your dream of going to college altogether. It really can’t hurt you to take your time on your degree if you have no other way anyway. . . I should graduate with an associates in Web design by next year, and though I know there is a large possibility that I won’t have a job in the field, I know I will have the skills and that I tried and when those papers come around (you know they will), I will be prepared to get my career going and continue to the next level.

  100. Hey Im not Hispanic , but im also in the same boat. I understand the hardship. I myself want to finish college . I couldn’t even go to a four year because i have no financial aid. So i am going to a two year and hopefully transfer with a miracle scholarship. I really do not know what the future holds but God has brought you this far and same for me and I know something good will happen soon. No more tears and pain and feeling isolated like your the only one . It is our time , it is our turn! Do not give up. You make me so happy because you are so smart and have advanced further then most. I hope to be a chemical engineer someday and i do not care how long it takes I will get there!

  101. Juan,

    Your situation depends on a lot of factors:
    a) Did you cross the border or did you have a visa? If you had a visa, you can return to Mexico and apply for an adjustment of status. This visa ( in this case, a student visa) is issued fairly quickly.
    If you crossed the border, than you really need to wait for the amnesty. Not even marriage will save you.
    b) Do you have any direct relatives that have papers (i.e. an uncle, an aunt) that could adopt you and make you legal?
    c) Could you return to Mexico and apply for a student visa, still with the scholarships?
    d) Have you considered that even if you go to school and continue to be an illegal, you can always go to Mexico or to another country with a top-notch education and get a job – maybe an even better one than you would get here?
    e) Have you considered doing only one major as opposed to 2? That should reduce the cost drastically!
    I think you should work twenty jobs if you have to in order to pay out of pocket for your education.
    I will also mention that while I researched for a Master’s program I found a school called Western Governors University. They are an online institution that is fully accredited and they charge by semester as opposed to credits. The cost is only $ 2875 per semester, no book costs, and I am sure they would not care about your legal status. Much better to pay 6k a year than 22k. That way you still get an education while you wait for your legal status to change, but you would do that within your means.
    An education – be it from Harvey Mudd, or from the community College across the street – is an education.
    You are brilliant! No paper, or legal status in the world can take that away from you!
    I hope you keep on fighting and go farther than your parents have.

  102. “Danielle, you’re what makes this country the communist nation it’s turning into… you should be proud…”

    I don’t understand how I am being referred to as a communist? THIS is why I believe Juan should continue his education here. We need more EDUCATED and OPEN-MINDED people! and yes, I am proud of who I am and that I encourage Juan.

  103. I definitely agree that you need to take year off and apply for citizenship. It will get in the way of you trying to get scholarships, admission, and a job once you graduate.

    Barring that, apply for a student visa. It does require you go back to your country of legal residence once you are done with school however.

  104. @Yadi: I understand there are lots of humble illegals that are here to make a better life for themselves. However, I am a college student and am waiting and paying fees to immigrate legally to Canada. While the rest of us have to wait and pay fees, they get to just come in ahead of us and then the country embraces them?

    However, that’s not Juan’s problem right now. Yes, it’s his parents’ fault for his current predicament. However, at the age of 18 he is legally an adult and therefore independent of his parents… and it is his responsibility to go to college legally, it will make his life SO much easier. I have a friend that is here legally through marriage but has no work visa. It was a NIGHTMARE trying to find anyone to hire him!

    So again, to Juan… find a way to either get legal citizenship or a student visa, and in fact if you get a student visa and find a potential employer while you are studying in the states, that employer may be willing to go through the process of getting your work visa and thus a doorway to citizenship.

  105. If any of his detractors had actually READ Juan’s letter they would know that he is not trying to exploit any government/taxpayer monies. University scholarships are financed by private citizens and corporations (at least they are here in Canada.) His illegality is not the point. He is concerned over the same potential spend-all-my-cash-for-college-and-not-have-a-job-at-the-end that the rest of the world faces.

    Did that fine print mean residence in that state, or residence in the US?
    No fine Engineering schools in your state so your HS transcripts bring down your fees?
    Do you have the money saved already for first year? If not, I feel that you should take a year to earn a lot, then apply to a cheaper college for the first 2 years, then using those marks apply to your dream schools. Take some business courses as well, as you may have to open your own company to work in your field.

    If you are taking a year off to look at other schools you could take someone above’s advice and look into scholarships for foreign students from the excellent Engineering colleges of McGill (Ontario) or the University of Alberta in Canada which offer some ‘free ride’ merit scholarships. Alberta’s minimum wage is $8.50/hour and our dollar is worth only pennies less than yours.

    However, your main problem then would be reentering the US.

    Juan, do you have ANY documentation as a Mexican citizen? If not, DO NOT LEAVE USA!!! US Customs are very sticky post-9/11 about even letting in cross border shoppers on day trips without a passport, let alone without a birth certificate.

    Getting married in either country is not only morally weird, but a sure way to get mired in paperwork and lose your anonymity.

    Good luck!

  106. Get your citizenship! It can be had. If you have to marry or whatever the case. Find a way. You are risking extradition by not having it. It’s not just schooling. Your whole way of life is at stake. The schooling is just an extra. If you value what this country has to offer, find a way. Shady as it may seem. I’ve wanted to have dual citizenship in the EU, so I’ve thought about all these things. How to get it I mean. First things first, dude, do what you have to do and then enjoy the benefits!


  107. Becoming a legal resident as an undocumented is out of the question. The only way to do so is to either get married, or try going back to country of origin and get denied. The best advice for Juan and millions of undocumented students, like my self is to not give up. There are a lot of students who have a lot of potential and we just can’t give up. I am currently a student at N.C. A& T but this was not my first choice, or any of them for that matter. I got accepted in to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as an Aerospace major, Norwich University, N. C. State, but because of being undocumented I was denied. A lot of times even in major universities you take the same classes your beginning years, I know that in some states they will make valid your high school career, so try looking into community colleges first only as a stepping stone. Take classes that would be equivalent to those in the four year university your going. Even if its all the maths and english only, but make sure you verify that they are equivalent with the university. Its a long road but don’t give up bro. Let them tell you, you can’t so you can prove them wrong.

  108. Like Juan I’m in the same situation. The only difference is that I came to this country on a student visa when I was 8 years old. But my parents never got me SSN. Ignorantly, they changed my status to an F-2 visa (a dependent of a business person) when I was in fifth grade when they started a company. Later that year they got divorced and didn’t keep my status up to date or changed it back to an F-1. Now, I’m in limbo.
    I graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program in St. Petersburg Florida in 2008. I now am trying to get into private colleges. The one question I have is: on the common application they ask for your citizenship status, what should I put in?
    Also, how are so many of the people who are in this same situation working?

  109. just go study in mexico..
    i graduated in 2010, i was going to go to college but cant 🙁
    so i just left all that shit nd
    goin to univerisdad de monarcas in michoacan.. this spring..
    gunna miss NC but oh well…

  110. for those of you undocumented who were accepted to colleges – how did you answer the citizenship question on the common application or any of the other college admission applications??
    greatly appreciate any help…

  111. First of all, congratulation to Juan and all others who are as brilliant as Juan who commented in this forum.

    I don’t think I am less suffered person than you are Juan in context of immigration. I arrived US on a student visa 14 years ago and my brother followed me after a semester on student visa as well. We both went to college: we were financially supported by parents who worked hard to keep us in school and paid our tuition on time– in other words kept the student(F1) status valid for about 5 years when we couldn’t receive any financial support at all from our parents — due to the dramatic and chaotic political changes that took place in our country during this time we nearly went out of status and became illegal. Our parents suffered heavily from the political changes. We were working 20 hours on campus jobs but we still couldn’t manage to pay one quarter of the tuition. It was pretty high. We suddenly started working all nights off campus and attending the college during the day.

    This is where we started looking for an alternative to remain on valid immigration status in US and complete our degree. It would be disastrous if we had to return back without a degree — this is what made us popular among friends back in our country and socially it would kill us if we were to return empty after a long investment of time, young age, family separation and money.
    Suddenly we brothers started finding differences within our own views and started living in different cities. I had only 3 months to change my status or I would be subject to deportation. I don’t know what my brother did to maintain his status as he stopped communicating with me completely up until now. With the help of a college friend, a US citizen, who gave me a ride to a lawyer’s office, I asked for all of my legal options with the lawyer. As you know lawyers are $$ hungry, the lawyer looked at my country conditions and advised I should claim political asylum and withholding of removal immediately or I should marry a US citizen or else I would be deported. I wouldn’t marry a girl for a green card nor did I know any girls who would be willing to marry. I was left with no choice — I decided to claim political asylum and withholding of removal. My application was denied by the AO and was referred to the Immigration judge for decision if I should be deported. As you can imagine, I flew 24 hours just to get a higher education in US and was accompanied by my brother and my parents had invested nearly all of their wealth and hard work for us to study in US. Where do you see the compassion for students or their age? We were still very young at this time. How were we different from other human being even though we were not born in US? I didn’t even have money to buy ticket to fly back, the hungry lawyer took all of my money and put me in debt.

    I had no choice but to face immigration trial. Because I followed what the lawyer advised me to say, the trial became nerve breaking and the government attorney started digging me harder. My face was expressing well enough that I was not a dangerous person nor was I here with any intentions like that. Never learnt to harm others and I am against those who do so. My trail went towards failure and the judge started looking at me with anger and asked me even difficult questions as if he would arrest me inside the court. I just couldn’t say to the judge what would you do if you or you child were in my place? A luck of mine– the four hours trial time ended without a decision and i was scheduled to appear 1 year later for the decision. I got plenty of time to think over, find my other options available or get help from other nice people. I met one of the university directors in CA who is a true human who I admire for her wisdom and will always remember her in my entire life. I expressed her my troublesome time which all aroused because I wanted higher education. She understood my problem and agreed to testify on my behalf at the court in the next hearing as her CV was as strong as any country’s ambassador who had knowledge about my country, plus she had written books on my country. Due to her unbelievable knowledge, the judge got impressed and granted me “Withholding of removal” status. I had 2 years college remaining before I could graduate. With this status, I couldn’t travel back nor could I be certain it would not be taken away anytime in between had the country conditions changed.
    Now, I had 1 more battle to fight. My lawyer gave me 30 days to appeal or accept that status. I decided to fight all the way in the Board of Immigration Appeal. The BIA remanded the case back and ordered to give a new decision. Then the new judge granted me asylum — didn’t happen in 1 day, it took me about 4 years to receive a favorable decision. Then I went back to college and graduated with a bachelor degree but still didn’t get any aid or $$ you guys are expecting in this forum. I worked all nights and studied during the day. After 1 year, I would qualify for a permanent residency. Here comes a trouble again. Since I fixed my problem and finished my college, I always felt great sympathy within my heart for my brother and missed him a lot, how he is and how I made him so upset. I emailed him many times but he didn’t reply. I knew his whereabouts through his couple of mutual friends who were very surprised at us — how stoned we have become. I had to move on, went on looking for a job, got a job on my field of studies and the employer abused me after working few months and kicked me out without paying although I was legal. Meanwhile, I claimed permanent residency through asylum after 1 year, but the USCIS put my application on hold saying that “212 a 3 b related inadmissibility hold or material support to foreign organizations abroad”. This is in other words, saying that you are a terrorist suspect. I felt like I was devastated and my dreams were shattered. It turns out that even if your parents were forced to pay (extorted) donation to communist organizations, you are assumed to have supported them. Now, I couldn’t quit my job or I could move back, I had already lived nearly half of my life in US and I was fully integrated in US systems. I also couldn’t go leaving my brother alone although he is abandoned technically. I went to congressman’s office to complain the false accusation of USCIS and USCIS admitted their mistakes and finally approved my greencard.
    But within my heart, I am even weaker. I haven’t seen any family members in 14 yrs and I am completely disconnected from most of them. The one I can see doesn’t talk to me. I can’t travel back to my country either — asylum through greencard — people can’t travel back. If I do, I will have to make sure I will not return US again. As you can imagine now, how drastically my life and my families’ life has changed. All happened because I wanted to pursue higher education from the best country in the world USA. The truth is — education seekers or scholars are not welcomed in US as the slogan says globally. It is not true and they are quite discouraged regardless of how US system works, how strict the law is or how strong the US is has nothing to do with person seeking education. Alternately, US should reveal the fact that they can’t educate their own people and they shouldn’t invite foreigners just to fill their college budget by imposing unreasonable tuition to foreign students. Students are students, no matter which country they come from, they all share equal problems and live by same emotions or times. Educational institutes are noblest place to go and their values and faith in US are buried.
    My final question to you all is: if I find my brother living illegally (as my findings say so), how can I help him or what should I do to reunite and earn his brotherly love?
    Thank you for reading and I hope I didn’t go on tangent and wasted your time.

  112. Juan should move back to Mexico and apply to a college or university there. Since he is very intelligent, Juan should have his pick of schools. While living there, he could apply for citizenship the right way, attend college, and start a career in Mexico while he waits. If he does not gain acceptance into the United States, Juan will have his career in Mexico to fall back on. Perhaps, if he makes a lot of money, Juan can bring his parents back to Mexico to live with him.

  113. He needs to become a legal resident before he goes to school, or does anything for that matter. I have no sympathy for illegal aliens. If you want to be in this country, learn the language (which I’m glad he’s done) and then become a resident.

  114. I’m inspired by your bravery to email this website; I can only imagine how reading some of these comments must feel like. I’m cringing and I was born here.

    To those telling him to study in Mexico: Just because your family is Mexican doesn’t mean you can handle Spanish academia. I was born and raised here. My first language is Spanish, but my most proficient language is English. I tried Monterrey Tech for a summer and knew immediately that my academic Spanish was not ready for those sorts of standards. If Juan’s only really studied in English, it will be the same way.

    (The likelihood of anyone reading this is low, but…)

    To suggest a mix of ideas, are there any programs in Mexico in ENGLISH? Or, you know, you could be crazy and apply to a school in a different country altogether. 🙂 My dad applied and a received an engineering scholarship to France while living in Mexico; perhaps there are other programs out there that might suit your particular situation?

    Listen to those who are offering legitimate advice on legality and private university acceptance rates and whatnot. They know more than I do, and can help you. And know that all the mean comments on here aren’t really attacking you as a person – they’re just angry because you don’t have a specific slip of paper. Don’t be discouraged or take it personally; instead, use it as fuel for your fire. 🙂

    Keep up the dream!

  115. Well…another person with the same situation. Its my last year in high school and i live in Virginia. Getting into a decent community college would no problem if i wasnt an immigrant. arI have asked plenty of colleges and they all just kill my hopes. If i wanted to attend a community college i would have to pay out of state tuition even if i have lived here for 2 and a half years. I lived 12 years in North Carolina and i applied to a private college there. The cost would be at about 30,000 a year. That is like twice as much as my parents make. This really sucks. I am looking into colleges in mexico like UNAM. I really dont want to go because my parents are here and the U.S is all i’ve ever known = [

    1. UNAM is one of the best schools in the world and Mexico City is one of the most amazing cities in the world… I say you should go for it 🙂

  116. Daniel Gonzalez

    Ideally someone whose legal legal status is in doubt should not even be allowed to apply for higher education. Illegals in the U.S. make a mockery of the entire F-1 visa process those of us living abroad have to go through if we want to study in the U.S.

  117. You are here illegally. What you are doing is wrong, even if you are “smart”. Please do not go to a college and take their time and money, you should not even be here in the first place. America is for AMERICANS, only legal, lawful citizens should go to a American college.

    1. Anonymous:

      Really? Please be smart here. Negativity is not what we are looking for, we are in search of a light of hope. We are pretty much tired of people who think like you. First, as a “Mexican” let me tell you that I am a North American. Why? Maybe you should take a look at a world map and see that Mexico falls in North America, right under the United states. Surprised? We are in the same continent.
      Uhm now look right under and there is also South America and even Central America.
      Are we all Americans?

  118. Wow…so many ignorant people on here.

    Juan: Don’t give up your dream. If an education is what you want, do what you can to make it happen, even if it means deferring college for a year.

  119. “Your are not an illegal alien. You are an undocumented.”

    If I leave the house without my driver’s license I am an “undocumented” driver. If I enter the country through improper means I am an *illegal*. Euphemisms won’t change the truth. The fellow is an adult and is now responsible for his current state. He could resolve it but chooses not to do so.

    “Are we all Americans?”

    No. I am an American, not because I am from North America, but because of the name of my country. I am a citizen of the United States of America, not the United States of North America. The United States of America happens to be on the North American continent. People from Canada or Mexico are North Americans but are not Americans. If you believe that to be the case, show me any Mexican willing to go to Afghanistan and claim to be an American.

    This fellow needs to delay his dream until he can do it properly. He can’t get a proper job here, with or without a degree, which means he’s have to leave the country to get the employment value of the degree. In the meantime, part of his education is subsidized by the taxpayers. Tuition does not cover the entire cost of providing the educational facility except for a few very small private schools without endowments. That means the taxpayers (or the endowment contributors) must pay for part of that education (and I am not talking about financial aid here; tuition at the University of Florida covers less than half the cost of running the school, which means tax money and endowments make up the rest). The taxpayers (or endowment contributors) are entitled to a return on their investment, which cannot be achieved by paying for the education of someone who is here illegally.

    This is not a moral judgment on a fine young man trying to improve his future. I would only question his morals or ethics if he refused to take the steps to make things proper and legal.

    He is not an immigrant- an immigrant follows the law, enters the country properly and tries to become an American. I’d like for him to become an immigrant, but he’d have to leave the country and obey the law. Whether or not he does that will determine what kind of person he really is. It can be done- one of the teachers at the very tiny private school I go to immigrated from Venezuela; he got his papers and then came to the US to go to school. This young man can do the same.

  120. going back to mexico and aplying for a green card is not an option for an illegal immigrant because first of all he doesn’t have a prescence in mexico and some of the first things they ask when aplying for a green card is. What do you do? all places where have you live for the last twenty years? they will realize rightaway that he is not a resident of mexico but was living here in the States illegally. they will then make him wait ten or more years before he can apply again. I am pretty sure this guy has a wife, maybe kids, a family. if this guy has a live already made here it would be VERY difficult to move to another country and specially if you don’t know if you’ll ever come back. For any problem there’s always going to be two sides or two different views. it is important to look at both sides of the coin before making any suggestions that might ruin a life.

  121. Become legal or get a visa then I’ll feel sorry for you and I’m not racist I just understand that its hard for any not so well off student to find money to pay for college. Its just like if I did something illegal and was forced out of college for it, what’s wrong is wrong good luck in your search and hopefully you will soon be an American citizen.

  122. And I’m sure someone will post ignorant on my post but if your posting that you should be looking to yourself for

  123. Take a year, work on the citizenship. Despite the hassle of doing it, we all face hassles of some kind of another, and we just put on our grown up pants and do it, or else problems just snowball. You want to live in America and go to American schools and get American benefits but don’t want to be an American? Otherwise, I’d say settle for the lesser option.

  124. I wish that I could say that I feel sorry for Juan, but I am afraid that I do not. I am a coolege graduate that dis NOT get a free ride, and the parent of a child in college that did NOT get a free ride and we are American citizens. I do NOT think that an illegal alien should be able to attend any school in this country regardless of the situation. Juan should go back to Mexico and return to this country legally and then worry about college. My grandparents were immigrants who came to this county legally for abetter life for themselves and their children. The key word here is LEGALLY. I resent my tax dollars going to fund any person who does not legally belong here. I work hard for my money and feel that it should be spent wisely, this is not what I consder wise.

    1. Obviously you’re not a College graduate considering the fact you don’t even know how to spell College and other words for that matter. And on another note you seem like a bitter person who is just angry because you and your child were not smart enough to get a free ride maybe you both should have worked harder in school. Also how can you resent your tax dollars funding someone’s education, how ridiculous is that at least they will contribute to society, do you also resent your tax dollars going to the hundreds of people on welfare that don’t work and just sit at home not educating themselves and are receiving your tax dollars?

  125. dude im in the same situation i was brought here when i was 14 years old then my parents put me thru highschool i have graduated and obtained a highschool diploma but now what? what do i do ? im married to a citizen and we have spoken to a few lawyers and the have all told the same thing that i have to go back to my country and that its a risk . because they mite make me wait for ten years. any advise ????

  126. Manny Johnson

    Diear Friends,
    I’ve got myself another Juan, but his name is Miguel. I own a plant nursery in Florida and a Mexican family, Father, Mother, 2 sisters, with valid papers at the time came to work for me. The 2 sisters had 2 sons the same age, Miguel and Juan. One of the father’s was killed in a car accident and the other just disappeared. These people became my family! They saved my business or sure helped and I have done everything to help them. When I saw the boys were only speaking Spanish at home and suffering in school, I tutored them until they were at the head of their classes. I tried to adopt them but their other families would not allow it. From age 5 to 18 we kept thinking the government was going to change and legalize them. as their employer I am only allowed to ask for an I-Form and supporting documentation. This can be purchased for a few hundred bucks, but no employer can discriminate against an employee that has them. Every payday ALL appropriate taxes are withheld and sent to the government. I have NEVER heard anyone say a dmaned thing about all the federal tax dollars that illegal immigrants give to the U.S. government that helps bolster Social Security becasue they are funds collected but never paid out. Some figures are as high as 20% of the total collected!

    Well, the boys did great in alll school work and church and the community. When it came time for college, last June, there were nothing but broken promises to be found from the schools, churches and lawyers. I might add the lawyers sucked up damn near all my money and theirs and got us no where. We have found one school in FLorida that wwill take my money for out of state tuition. BUT this only puts us through 4 more years of hell and then we are back at square one– 2 kids with a college education but no place to call home. By the way they left Mexico with their family at age 4 and have no place in mexico to call home.

    I am so disgraced as a human to watch minorities, select minorities at that, work their ass of in jobs that most Americans consider themseleves too good to do, and I have persoanlly seen this all over the U.S., yet other minorities can bring as many people over as they desire to run their gas stations, hotels, cabs, etc. and our government offers no restrictions on how and when they arrive. if the Mexican Drug Wars are not as damaging to the human spirit and body as a natural disaster than I must be some kind of stupid.

    Somehow, someway we must help each other as human beings. I have found most people to be good, loving, honest people who help to make societies better. I am now under great fear that Miguel will be swayed away from me and the fmaily and on to the gangs that are so willing to give him a home!

    Peace and Blessings,

  127. Hi,
    I have enjoyed reading many of your posts. I am not “Juan.” I am “Juana’s” 4th grade teacher. We have remained close even after she moved on to middle and high school. My smart student graduated from High School with honors two weeks ago. I watched with pride as she crossed the stage and received her diploma. She and I visited the local community college today and had a rude awakening. I was prepared for out of state tuition. I was not prepared for 2 photo ID’s which she does not have. She has her school photo ID but nothing else. (One suggestion on the college list was an insurance card) I made a call to the courthouse to find out the requirements for obtaining a non-driver’s photo ID. The nice lady on the other end of the phone was amazed that we allow students to enroll in elementary school without a social security number! Obviously she’s never heard of the supreme court ruling that does not care if a child is legal or not. They are assigned a state id number to use throughout their school career in our state. My student was brought to Alabama when she was 7 and this is her home. She and her sisters have always been excellent students. Her father was deported due to some family violence but mother and the girls have remained here. Mother is a hardworking, law-abiding person who longs to “belong” to the USA. This family would love to be US citizens but are afraid of being sent back for 10 years in order to come here in a legal manner. I want so much to see my “Juana” in college. Any suggestions on how to get her application processed?

    Thanks, Maestra (Teacher)

  128. This land was founded by immigrants…there will always be good and bad people in this world. Good, in my opinion are the ones that work for the betterment of not only themselves but others, bad are those who suppress and are simply ignorant. Without slavery , there would be no capitalism. Obama is my inspiration and I stand by him to help pass “The Dream Act” In God We Trust

    1. Sorry, Ana, but Obama is the one that is trying to erradicate Christianity in our country.

      I am glad, though, that you acknowledged that slavery was an economic issue, not a racial issue,

  129. I am an international student from Madagascar and I know exactly how you feel. At the school I am going to right now, if you are not an US citizen, or a missionary kid, or home schooled, they treat you in a very nasty way. In fact, there are not many international students over here and most of them are either from rich countries or rich families. I am the only one from a poor country and a poor family. Anyway, I am not eligible to any form of financial aid, and also I am only allowed to work 20 hours a week if I can find a job (and most of the time, they do not hire international students). So yeah, I am really suffering right now. I wet my pillow every single night on that issue, but I still keep fighting and trying to apply for as many scholarships that I can find and expose my case everywhere. Anyway, keep knocking as many doors as possible to finance your studies. Try to find a job and do it well so that your employer wants to keep you after graduation. That way, you’ll get a work visa or a green card in a easier way. Don’t give up, you already got this far!

  130. FIX YOUR HOME COUNTRY!!! Why is the job of America to fix the deficienies of your homeland???? I do not feel sorry for you!! If you are immigrating, assimilate yourself to the culture. WE OWE YOU NOTHING!! My family fought that battle in the US, you need to fight it yourself, otherwise, you will never apreciate the freedom that has been GIVEN to you. You must EARN it yourself!!!

    1. ALSO…I live in Williamsburg, VA….no locals can get a job because they specifically give them all to INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS.

      1. Seeing as you have trouble grasping basic grammar, syntax, reading comprehension and basic human compassion, I’d wager it’s not because they’re international students.

  131. The option of joining the military and gaining U.S. Citizenship and the GI Bill I think is the best solution. You don’t have to enroll in active combat. There are many departments that can suit many talents. Two years and you have Money for college your citizen ship and peace of mind.

  132. Hello, I also have a situation.
    I’m from Haiti. I used to come to the USA for vacation with my Tourist VISA. But last year, after the big earthquake in January many of us came here. I went to high school for free. But I just graduated & I still can’t get into a college because I don’t have my papers yet. I really love to study, and I have my Diploma with all my certificates. Is there a way the Government can help me get the papers & pay my tuition?

  133. Hey I from Mexico and I have been doing so much research on how to have a successful life in the U.S without documents. The fact is, it’s almost impossible to do so. I too am undocumented but I have been finding some pretty good advice. But I don’t know if I should go back to Mexico and earn a degree there or battle here and struggle to get the same education that a regular person would get here and end up destroying myself when I graduate and can’t work here. I am still in high school so if anyone can help give me some advice please do! Thank You!

    1. do whatever it takes to get a US degree in science or engineering. Then you can easily apply to Canada, Europe or japan for master degree then you can find a way to stay there. Dont stay in the US undocumented once you finish your bachelors. There is no need for that suffering, all these developed countries are more than willing to take smart people. That worked for me 😉 I make a lot of money as an engineer in Europe.

  134. if I was you, i would obtain an engineering degree, then leave the country and apply for masters degree in canada, Europe, japan.. they will surely want you pretty bad. Trust me it WORKS 😉 !! All developed countries (well maybe not the US anymore) are hungry for smart people to keep developing technology. If you are not giving residence in the US, why do you want to stay if as an engineer you will enjoy a great economic life in all of these developed countries. But it’s important that you get your bachelors degree first here in the US even if you are undocumented.

  135. For students who have grades and test scores that would allow them to gain admission to prestigious schools, check state schools in states that have the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Both Texas and Arkansas do not ask for documentation. You are still inelligble for state or federal funding but you are wide open for private and school based scholarships. I don’t think you should wait a year. I think you should get on board with a “second tier” school. Sometimes these highly competitive schools are not the right fit.

  136. The idea of returning to your home country AFTER earning your degree is an excellent one. Because you are billingual and educated, there are many more job opportunities available. The idea of going on to a Master’s or Doctoral program in another country is also an excellent one.
    Because you do not have documentation, certain programs will be off limits. For example, Education and anything in the medical field. But technology (engineering, computer science), social science (criminal justice, psychology/counseling), agriculture and business are all wide open.
    I have students who are studying right now with plans to go back, work for awhile and appy for citizenship from their home country.

  137. Cathy, this is an intriguing idea. I like the idea where high school graduates can find a way to obtain a college degree, needed in their own home country, and return to help rebuild their country from the ground up. It will take generations of this kind of commitment to make it happen. America was not built in a day. 🙂 [Rome].

    The politics in this country is no different than in other country. Human life has a price in this country and the way our government handles it is by throwing people away that “do not belong here.” I have switched sides on this issue from 10 years ago. I now want to see our government stop tearing families apart like this. If a child was brought here as a young child it’s simply not just to throw them on the other side of the border. My real issue is that the children brought to this country illegally have no voice. No matter how we paint this, it’s cruel and inhumane. We treat animals better in this country than we do deported aliens.

    America is responsible for feeding one of the worst gangs known in America and possibly the world now because we ruthlessly deported them. If we do not deal with this issue wisely, not emotionally, we will be our own worst enemy. It is not just to throw children on their heads to fend for themselves in a country they know very little about and are forced into prostitution, robbed and killed for their $20. As one of my Command Sergeant Majors used to say, “There ain’t no way to do wrong.” Pray for these children being brutalized by our system.

  138. Politicians need to understand that they are crushing the dreams of many innocent kids. Whenever I see a little undocumented kid, I get a horrible feeling because I know his/her dreams will be crushed just like mine were, and he will go through the same frustration and appointment I felt when I graduated high school.

  139. Reading all these comments makes me wanna cry. I’m a senior in high school right now and i’m in the process of applying to colleges. All my friends have gotten scholarships and the more i look for a way to actually go to college, the more i disappoint myself. i am also an undocumented student, I’m in the top 10 percent of my class. Got a good grade in my SAT scores… but this college thing is just looking kinda impossible for me right now. I really pray for the dream act to pass, so many brilliant minds would succeed in this country.

  140. Sadly i am in Juan’s same situation. I really want to do something with my life. I’ve seen the struggles my parents have gone through raising my brother, my sister, and me. We came here legally (on an airplane, with our visa and passports) but with time our passports expired. My father studied engineering back in Mexico but was having a hard time finding a job. When i was about 3 years old he came to the states. Here they (U.S.) would not acknowledge that he was educated in engineering. The gov’t said that if he was to be seen as an engineering, he would have to study here. My dad could not afford to go back to school. He had to provide for my mom, me and my brother (who was on the way). So he took whatever job he could get. My dad was working double shifts and getting almost no sleep. When i was small i never considered any of this, i was just happy to be with my family. Although we are considered illegal my father still pays taxes. Yes, he pays his taxes every year. When i was young the words “illegal” and “legal” meant nothing to me. Now it means everything. I know God has a reason for every tribulation he allows in my families life. God has allowed me to be more open minded and compassionate because of my situation. Now i am 16 and a junior in high school. I am extremely stressed about college and SAT’s. I am contemplating on whether i have a future here in the United States. I have a lot of questions but no one seems to have the answers. I am not eliminating the option of studying in Mexico. I just do not appreciate negative comments. I also have Spanish decent, henceforth i have my Spaniard citizenship. I am considering studying there as well. How do i apply to universities out of the country? I am so afraid of leaving my family and never seeing them again. I’m afraid that if i leave my siblings wont remember me. It is scary to think about leaving everything I’ve ever known.
    -Juan i really dont know what to tell you. But dont get married for your citizenship. If you get married let it be for love. I dont know if you believe in God or not but God bless you. God never puts anyone in a situation that they cant handle. He will never give you more than you can handle. He knows your limits and boundaries. I hope everything works out in your life.

    -If you ever have a hard time just remember,

    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
    -Philippians 4:13

    God Bless you

    1. DIRECT REPLY TO ANONYMOUS AT January 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm:

      An African immigrant from Public Speaking class is in the same situation, which your father went through! He got his baccalaureates of science studies at French institution, while in Africa.

      He then decided to come to the U.S., I don’t know why, and his total education was denied. He has to begin from the bottom of the hole, and climb his way out!

      What would piss me off even more is that he has to begin with the first level of college algebra, even though he took up topology, complex analysis, and partial differential equations; which are all very high level division courses.

      Yes, they were all in French, but seriously! Math is a form of quantitative logic we can all comprehend! How dare they stomp on his French b.s. physics degree! You know, I’d understand if he had to take remedial English classes, to hone his language and composition skills, but STARTING COMPLETELY OVER!?

      He was taking graduate courses in physics, but now he has to start from Intro to Physics!?

      Honestly, I seem something majorly wrong here. And, if I were him, I would not go through all of that b.s. (<–that did not stand for "Bachelors of Science," that time). I'd just go into programming or some heavily mathematically related occupation, in Africa, if there was one available.

      Then again, I probably should not be judging his lot of options because I'm not aware of them and due to the fact that I have not empirically and rationally experienced them through his eyes and mind.

      But, I'm still frustrated at the thought of stomping on his whole lot of education, to begin from the very beginning in everything. I think it's ridiculous, but that's me.

  141. Dear Juan and everybody else reading my brief comment,

    What Juan could also do is become adopted by U.S. citizen. My philosophy teacher, who (of course) also works in law, volunteered to be my adoptive mother.

    Unfortunately, this swiftly easy plan didn’t work out because of past parental issues. You see, my mother and I left Mexico; when I was 11 months old; due domestic violence issues. Moving on, my biological father is still legally my father, according to Mexican law. So, he would have to go through a bunch of paperwork to disown me. Then, my mother would gladly disown me, because she supports the idea of being adopted.

    The problem is, there’s a lack of communication and my biological father is an extreme alcoholic. My mother has tried to become divorced, under Mexican law, but it hasn’t happened; because they can’t the mofo, or he doesn’t want to comply.

    I’ve also opted for marrying, but the scrutiny of this sector has gotten intense. Y’know, I have tons of friends who would be happy to marry me, but I wouldn’t want to impregnate any of them. Yes, in some states they require a baby now. Not to mention that I’m genderqueer and generally attracted to males…so I’m double screwed. Then again, I wouldn’t mind going through all of the b.s., except the child part, for my legality.

    Dudes and dudettes, I’ve been living here as long as you have, pretty much…I’ve lived the typical American experience you all have. I’ve mastered English, as all of you have, and I’ve taken the stupid ACTs and SATs, even though they’re complete jokes.

    Also, with my fluency in Spanish and great inquisitive nature, I have opted into applying for UNAM, the Nationally Autonomous University of Mexico (“Mexico’s Premiere Ivy League”). The thing is, UNAM has crazy pre-admission test requirements, which I doubt I’m ready for. In other words, to be accepted, you have to take a broad assessment, on which one has to score an eighty-five percent on. Almost all of the people who pass the exam with that score, or higher, are guaranteed accetance; I mean, the school has a 226,000 student population. It’s a HUGE school.

    The entrance exam covers topics in Spanish composition, Mexican history, world geography, differential calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, and two or three other topics. I’d take this exam, but I’m not too familiar with my own nationality’s history. I’m neither the expert Spanish rhetorician, but I’m a science and math goober. Either way, I’d probably fail the exam.

    I must mention that roots have been planted in my home: Colorado, so moving to Mexico City would be culturally shocking, and it’s dangerous, polluted, cramped, and intense in that city. 25 million people are jam packed into that city.


    It’s also quite common for UNAM students to be victims of theft, vandalism, rape, and other things, and guess what? I’ve had issues with rape in the past, so I’m not even going to risk going through that again.

    I have also looked into other Mexican colleges, but they’re just not what I’d like to become. I’m gravitating towards being a physicist, and only UNAM and Monterrey Tech. really offer that. Monterrey Tech. is populated with rich snobs anyways, so I wouldn’t want to attend there, either.




    Post Script:
    I’m sorry if I made you late to a certain appointment. Yes, I thought this was going to be a brief description of the marvel of adoption, but I guess I like expressing myself a bit too much.

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