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Right-Wing Media Completely Distorts Educational Initiative for Undocumented Students

How poorly can FOX report a story on a new educational initiative that allows undocumented students to receive college credit?

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While every state, except for Georgia, allows undocumented students to attend its universities, only 13 allow them to pay in-state tuition and only three provide state financial aid.

Wong hopes to have about 35 students entering Dream University come January 2013. Students will earn college credit and can transfer it to other two or four-year institutions, could use it toward a bachelor’s degree in labor studies via the National Labor College, or could seek employment with the labor movement.

Students will learn about the DREAM Act movement and take classes with leaders such as Reverend Jim Lawson, who will teach about nonviolence and social change, and Tom Hayden, who teaches about students and pro-democracy movements.

“We want to build an online learning community of DREAM Act leaders who will help to transform this country,” Wong said. “We think that they will be leading the fight to pass the federal DREAM Act, to pass immigration reform and to open up avenues of higher education for immigrant youth throughout the country.”

As conservatives realized that FOX’s tuition numbers were just plain wrong, they began criticizing this objective itself. Michael Patrick Leahy, a contributor to the conservative Breitbart News, led the charge by taking issue with this goal, absurdly claiming, that the program’s requirement to be committed to social justice and immigrant and/or labor rights was discriminating against applicants based on their political ideology.

“Clearly this is a labor and social justice curriculum,” Wong said. “Any other program you’re recruiting for asks for interests — a business school might ask for ‘an interest and commitment to business.’”

Wong said this is all a part of the right-wing scare tactic of immigrants taking away opportunities from those who were born in the United States. He added that we are a nation of immigrants, and immigrants contribute vastly to our society.

Wong continued:

Immigrants are mainstays in major parts of our economy. If the undocumented immigrant workforce were to be removed, major parts of the U.S. economy would collapse. The right-wing knows that, but they would much rather divide workers against each other and inflame racism than address some of the problems of corporate greed, domination by the one percent and failed U.S. economic policies.

As Wong said, when conservatives push this false narrative that undocumented immigrants are getting a free ride, immigrants end up as scapegoats for the economic crisis, unemployment and other societal issues.  This distracts our society from criticizing the real causes of these issues, while fueling racism and distorting meaningful attempts to improve the lives of undocumented immigrants.

Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet.