Students face challenges, fears living without Social Security number
Published: August 15, 2012
PENITAS, Texas (CNS) -- On class days, Grecia's mother drives Aranet and Grecia 23 miles from their homes in Penitas to South Texas College in McAllen, dropping them off on her way to work in Hidalgo. Grecia's mom is always mindful of the speed limit, knowing that a routine traffic stop could spell big trouble for the three of them. They are all undocumented immigrants. "When you don't have papers, you live scared," Aranet told The Valley Catholic, newspaper of the Brownsville Diocese. "You worry that if the police stop you, they'll send you back. ... My greatest fear is that they will stop us on the way to or from school." Aranet and Grecia, both 19, began attending South Texas College in August 2011, but the journey hasn't been without its setbacks. (The Valley Catholic omitted their last names for their safety.) For undocumented students, going to college takes more than discipline and an impressive academic record. It requires money -- big money -- since undocumented students in most states pay out-of-state tuition rates, and without a Social Security number, there are few scholarship opportunities. Undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid. Going to college also carries a certain level of risk. As Aranet described it, simply driving to and from school -- versus staying close to home -- increases the risk of being questioned about one's immigration status. "College is an option for very few undocumented students," said Sister Carolyn Kosub of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
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