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Illegal Hispanics with Advanced Degrees

Updated on June 6, 2012

As if the whole illegal immigration issue is not complicated enough, there is this: highly educated Hispanics with advanced degrees, all educated in the USA since age 10 or younger, all consider themselves as American, all use English as a primary language. The only problem is they are illegally here either because their parents brought them here when they were very young or their visa expired and they simply remained.

Most fall into the first group, went to US schools and became as American as anyone else. There are now thousands of Hispanics with degrees and advanced degrees but lack the one thing they need the most-legality because they were not born in the US. How do they get the degree? Many will volunteer or have a job to pay their way through college while living with their parents. Many get paid internships. Since none of social security numbers, required for employment, they work in the gray area of law, as independent contractors. If caught by ICE, they can suddenly find themselves deported back to a country they are totally alien to and unprepared for. Like it or not, they are American now.

It is estimated that at least 96,000 of them have college degrees or advanced ones, such as Law, Medical or Masters. Many did know they were here illegally, but simply stayed with their parents whose visas may have expired. They had hoped that by the time they would be of college age, the status issue would be resolved. Now, they have the degree but many are now too afraid to admit to it and work under the table, as independent contractors, where the SSN is not required or proof of immigration status.

Some odd things happen in immigration. For instance, one woman with a Masters, came at age 12. She teaches English to immigrants and works in a domestic violence center as a independent contractor. Her parents, farm laborers, came on visas and they eventually became legal residents. Her brother is a US citizen having been born in California. She can be deported back to Mexico if ICE asks for her status because she is still illegally here. She never became a legal resident. Her family and home and, as far as she is concerned, her country, is in America not Mexico that she has few ties to.

Now, law schools are finding out that some of the students who graduated and passed the Bar exam are illegal. Should they be allowed to practice? Does is make a difference if the graduates were brought here at age 5 versus at age 13? Should the children of the parents be punished for achieving the American dream of a college education? In some cases, these well educated Hispanics have started a business and have hired US citizens. But, how can you start a business without a SSN?

Some of the graduates have tried getting a job at Apple or elsewhere using the H-1B visa, allowing employers to hire foreigners. The risk is that they must leave the country they grew up in and apply in their so called "home country". If it is found out they lived in the US illegally, they cannot enter for 10 years.

Some say that an illegal with a college degree from a US school shouldn't make a difference, but it does because US immigration is often based on the value of immigrants and that value is based on education and business. Those immigrants do get some preferential status because they are more valuable to America than a person who works at a fast food chain.

The DREAM ACT needs to be passed and allow those with a Bachelors or Masters degree from a US college a fast track to legal resident because for all practicable purposes, they are American as those who are born here. This scenario will be occurring more and more. It needs to be resolved.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      The solution is to provide these types a permanent residence status, not citizenship, but allow them to become one. You know they will, they are American in every way. They had no control over their situation at such a young age.

    • Bob Zermop profile image

      Bob Zermop 

      6 years ago from California, USA

      Great points in this hub. Those who divide this immigration issue black and white forget this side of the story. Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      It's a very difficult situation. I'm not in favor of giving ANYONE who came here illegally ciitzenship. If those who were brought here illegally when they were young are given citizenship, then we'd have to grant it to a multitude as others who are here illegally would demand it, and with good reason.

      What can be done instead is give these graduates short term visas while we work out the border situation. We need to act quickly on the borders while these visas are in force. Once the borders are secured, we can have a discussion about how to deal with ALL illegals in the US.

    • mikelong profile image


      6 years ago from The largest convict colony in the United States

      This brings to mind one young man in particular. He's currently an undergraduate student studying engineering. His family is from Peru. His older brother is a very well respected engineer, and the United States offered him citizenship. He accepted, but came alone. His parents came in on tourist visas, but stayed, and eventually they brought their youngest son, the student I am speaking of.

      Because of the older brother's importance, his parents were given citizenship, but his younger brother wasn't. So, brought over at a young age, the young brother is currently finishing up his degree and looking ahead to graduate school, but is here illegally and worries about his future.

    • maxoxam41 profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      America is known for its brain drain. Other countries invest in their youth and America enjoys the fruits. If you are graduated America opens its arms, if not that represents most of the illegals working hard (gardening, housekeeping, "nannying", polishing your nails, cooking in restaurants...) you can be KICKED OUT. You are not human. Since the economy needs them why not giving them the opportunity to work and pay their taxes without giving them the citizenship?

    • SweetiePie profile image


      6 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Children should not be punished because their parents crossed the border illegally, and the Dream Act should pass. Besides, a lot of conservatives who act up in arms against illegal immigration are a bit hypocritical since back in the days of the boom economy many businesses hired illegal immigrants to save money, and Reagan was all for amnesty.


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