The Association of Raza Educators (ARE) is ramping up its national campaign with a protest outside Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) headquarters in San Francisco on Thursday November 20th 2008, demanding HSF stop discriminating against undocumented students. HSF has repeatedly emphasized that it "will not knowingly grant scholarships to individuals without legal status."
There are an estimated 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from U.S. high schools each year. As a private organization, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund is one of the few sources of financial aid undocumented students can turn to since they do not qualify for state or federal aid. HSF gave out over $26 million in scholarships in 2007 alone, with none of that financial support going to undocumented students.
The Association of Raza Educators sent various letters imploring HSF to allow undocumented students an opportunity to apply, but HSF continues to refuse. The fact is that undocumented students face tremendous hardships that U.S. citizens do not; moreover, even though HSF does a wonderful job supporting Hispanic students, its open and blatant disregard for the neediest in our community is deplorable.
In its defense, HSF responded to some of ARE claims by stating that they do not have the power to change national law and that they will not jeopardize losing corporate funding in order to allow undocumented students apply.
While HSF does not have the power to change federal law, it is well within its power and it is fully lawful to allow undocumented students to apply for their scholarship. As a Hispanic organization, HSF must not discriminate and include all Hispanics, not just those who are citizens, in spite of unjust immigration laws. Only then will HSF reach its goal in assisting Hispanic Students reach their educational goals.
Over twenty Community-Based Organizations have endorsed this effort, and over 2,000 people have signed the online petition, which can be found here
Videos produced by ARE calling on HSF board members Cheech Marin and Maria Elena Salinas (whose father was undocumented) to change the policy can be found here.