Right-Wing Media Completely Distorts Educational Initiative for Undocumented Students
The UCLA Labor Center recently publicized a new, affordable, educational initiative that allows undocumented students to receive college credit. Sounds great, right? After all, it’s the least we can do while we still have a broken immigration system. But when FOX News and their conservative buddies got a hold of the good news, their coverage was, well, awful as always — filled with distortion, wrong numbers and entirely made up facts.
The college credits would come through the National Dream University, an online program offering both undocumented and documented students opportunities to learn about labor and immigrant rights. The UCLA Labor Center and the National Labor College, an accredited higher education institution devoted to union members, partnered up to offer this new one-year program after having much success with educational programs serving immigrant students.
“We’ve had many undocumented students in our classes at UCLA, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for other undocumented students across the country to access college courses,” said Kent Wong, director of UCLA’s labor center.
The 18-credit program, as of now, will costs students $2,490. But Wong hopes, through fundraising, he could raise enough money to subsidize their tuition.
Wong said that Dream University has received a very positive response.
“There’s been a lot of interest and a lot of support from faculty all across the country and a lot of interest from DREAM Act students,” he said.
The DREAM Act is a proposed bill that would provide undocumented immigrants a pathway to U.S. citizenship through college or armed services.
Wong continued, “Most of the media coverage has been very favorable.”
Except for — you guessed it — the right-wing media coverage.
So, how did FOX twist the story this time?
On an episode of FOX & Friends, commentators suggested that “illegal students” would pay $2,400 to attend Dream University, while “legal students” would “get punished” for their citizenship and be forced to pay $6,642 — a completely fabricated number and concept, as both undocumented and documented students will pay the same costs.
Ready for co-host Brian Kilmeade’s ridiculously offensive summary of this utterly false information?
Kilmeade said that UCLA will:
Offer illegal aliens, people here without any ID, an opportunity to get an education about a third of the price of people that actually belong here.
Other conservative media outlets were quick to follow suit, and pounced on the Dream University program.
“We’ve been barraged by all of these requests for comments by these right-wing journalists, who harass us and just keep spinning all of this misinformation out there,” Wong said.
He said that he’s received threatening emails, especially from people who assume that because he has a Chinese surname that he was not born in this country.
“[They say] that I should be deported along with the students.”
Wong said that now, trying to get the right message out there has been very time-consuming.
This past Wednesday, as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program went into effect, tens or thousands of undocumented immigrants lined up to receive their two-year reprieve from deportation if they met certain requirements. Wong said that while the DREAM Act is still being fought, he wants to open up opportunities for undocumented students to receive a college education.
“Even though deferred action will now stop the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible students … in most jurisdictions around the country, there’s still no pathway to an accessible higher education,” he said. “That’s what Dream University’s all about.”