No (Post) Secondary Education For Undocumented Students

No (Post)secondary education for undocumented students
Illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. with their parents and attend high school cannot go to college in Wyoming without proper identification.

By Lindsey Erin Kroskob
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle (Cheyenne), July 11, 2008

Cheyenne — Illegal immigrants throughout the nation are finding it difficult to attend colleges and universities.

In Wyoming, it is virtually impossible.

'Our policy is more rooted in the application because it requires documentation,' said Noah Buckley, director of admissions at the University of Wyoming. 'If they don't have documentation, they cannot apply.'

Those students even may have attended public school in Wyoming, but without I.D., secondary education is out of reach.

This has been the case at UW for as long as Buckley can remember.

The identification policy was put into place to account for international students coming into the U.S. to attend UW, he said.

Those students have to show documentation, so the policy applies to all applicants.

He added that the issue of undocumented students is rare.

'I could probably count on one hand how many times this has come up,' Buckley said.

'That fact is that it is probably a much bigger issue, but folks are probably not willing to speak up and talk about how they are undocumented.'

The same can be said for undocumented students hoping to attend Laramie County Community College.

Lisa Murphy, LCCC's director of public relations, said the school catalog says only foreign nationals who possess proper authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be admitted.

But, she said, this issue has not been a concern at LCCC in the three years she has worked there.

Buckley said concerns have been magnified since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

'The Immigration Service's policies and rules have become a lot more stringent since then,' he added.

On the other hand, lack of documentation is not an issue within the public school system in Cheyenne.

'It's no problem here as far as we are concerned,' said Mike Klopfenstein.

He is Laramie County School District 1's assistant superintendent of instruction.

'As long as they have residency (within the district), they can come to school here,' he added.

A simple proof of address is enough to be admitted.

'Maybe that's just the difference between universities and pubic schools,' he said.

'We take all the kids.'

A number of states have set guidelines that either deny illegal immigrants in-state tuition or ban them from colleges and universities.

According to a report in USA Today, Colorado, Arizona, Georgia and Okalahoma all have refused in-state benefits to students who entered the U.S. illegally but attended public school within the state.

This is a change from earlier in the decade when 10 states passed laws allowing in-state tuition for such students.

The only Wyoming statute in relation to higher education referring to undocumented students says that anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident alien is not eligible to receive a Hathaway scholarship.

Buckley said for students to get federal financial aid, they also have to provide proof of citizenship.

'These students would hit a lot of road blocks through this process,' he said.