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Fresno State student body president acknowledges he is an illegal immigrant [Updated]

Illegal Pedro Ramirez, Fresno State's student body president, is an undocumented immigrant serving in the position without pay.

Ramirez, 23, attends school on scholarships and pays in-state tuition. California is one of 10 states that permit undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition -- a position that was upheld by the state Supreme Court this week.

After his election last June, he told the administration he would serve without pay -- a $9,000 stipend -- because he could not lie on employment papers. On Tuesday, an anonymous tip to the college newspaper forced Ramirez to go public.

Ramirez, who came to U.S. at the age of 3, said he did not know he was not a citizen until he was a senior in high school. As long as he can remember, he said, his parents -- a maid and a restaurant worker -- have told him he must work hard and achieve the American dream. He said they did not tell him he was not born in this country until he began applying to universities.

"I knew my parents were from Mexico, but a lot of people's parents are from Mexico," he said. "I grew up American."

Other than college counselors and administrators, Ramirez told no one of his status.

"I just kept it within. One of those things you don't tell anyone," he said. "But now I'm almost relieved to have to be open. Congress is about to vote on the Dream Act, which gives college students a path to citizenship. So, you know, here I am. It's me. I am one of the thousands whose fate is in their hands."

Ramirez said he would not resign his position unless the students who elected him demanded it.

The California Supreme Court's unanimous decision on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants is the first of its kind in the nation.

Federal law prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving college benefits based on residency and not provided to all citizens.

However, state officials insist there is no conflict with federal law. Under California's non-resident tuition exemption, known as AB 540 and approved in 2001, public colleges can offer in-state tuition to those who have attended California high schools for at least three years.

Some of those students are illegal immigrants. Others are U.S. citizens who attended high school in California but whose families may now live elsewhere, or those who moved out of the state to study or attended boarding schools in California.

[Updated, 12 p.m.: Fresno State President John D. Welty said in a statement that Ramirez personally notified him after his election about his immigration status and volunteered to serve without pay. Welty said that Ramirez has fulfilled all the requirements of an AB 540 student and that his status does not bar his participation in student affairs.

Associated Students Inc. "requirements do not address immigration status, so Mr. Ramirez was not prohibited from running for ASI office," Welty said in his statement. "I commend Mr. Ramirez and other AB 540 students who are following state statute as they seek higher education.” ]

Meanwhile, Democratic leaders in Congress have pledged to vote on the proposed Dream Act before the end of the year. If approved, the legislation would allow students living in the U.S. illegally to earn legal status if they graduate from high school and complete two years in college or the military.

[For the Record, 6:14 p.m.: The headline on an earlier version of this post said Ramirez "refuses to step down." As the post notes, he said he would not resign his position unless the students who elected him demanded it.]


Police seek video surveillance footage in probe of Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen's slaying

Dramatic video shows smash-and-grab robbery of Glendale jewelry store

-- Diana Marcum in Fresno

Photo: Pedro Ramirez. Credit: Pedro Ramirez for ASI President website

Comments () | Archives (157)

What upset me the most in the article was the fact that he is there and getting financial aid/scholarships. So, my son, who graduates next year, who is a legal citizen, who has done everything by the book may not be able to get financial aid- thanks to me being a caucasian tax paying citizen...but if I jumped the border...no problem you would pay for him?!

The guy was 3. As in Three Years Old.
He only learned he was illegal as a high school senior.
He worked without pay because he didn't want to lie on the forms. He pays his tuition.
His Mom and Dad sound like hardworking people who gave him good values...
Let's put him in handcuffs and dump him in Tijuana! Go USA!!

Arrest and deport. Simple. He's here illegally.

How is it fair that in order for me to become a LEGAL Citizen I had to cross a Continent, an Ocean and than wait for 8 years.
I apid my way through college, because I could not qualify for aid (I am not thought of as a minority). And yet people who come here ILLEGALY, get a free ride.
That is so UNFAIR.

Hey.... nearly every Student Body President at Fresno State for the past 25 yrs is a Mexican.
Bottom line he is a LaRaza/MECHA politician in the making

The problem with the Dream Act as presently offered is it is not restrictive enough. Yes it would let people like Pedro Ramirez who is deserving, a path, it gives the same thing to people up to age thirty five, has an application process that consists of claiming you qualify, and requires the immigration system to disprove qualification rather than requiring proof by the applicant.

The awarding of in-state tuition is ostensibly in violation of the 1996 immigration law, that forbids giving benefits to illegal aliens that are not offered to all citizens.

Fran, they do NOT pay significant taxes. IF there is any withholding it is next to nothing since they claim 20 exemptions each. Further....they are poor. god bless them...but they don't earn enough to pay much sales tax.

It costs $250,000 from us to birth, insure, educate, feed etc etc each child of an illegal immigrant.


I wonder if the local La Raza chapter supported him in his election. that's the future we have coming to California. you vote based on your race. you associate based on your race. you think based on your race.

not what I want for my future.

Would have no issue if he was pursuing his citizenship, but he makes absolutely no mention of it. Makes me wonder...

Also, why the heck is he getting scholarship money? My sister (a US born citizen) is struggling to pay for her college education at a public school because the school states it has no more scholarship money to distribute. Sounds like illegals are getting the money my sister and other hardworking LEGAL citizens are so desperate for! (My father and his family are Hispanic immigrants, but they came here LEGALLY, applied for citizenship and learned English within their first few months of moving here.)

Many posters here keep missing the point. "Illegal" is a status and not waived just because of good behavior. We are a nation of laws and need to enforce them. US immigration policy is supposed to be for the benefit of the citizens, not for the benefit of foreigners who want to come here. If you do want to come here, show that you will be a good citizen that will bring something, not just take.

I am a foreign born legal immigrant who became a citizen. I got here by getting education and skills that made me a desirable candidate. I also came here because I wanted to be an American, not a Latina American. I have no family here because I am opposed to chain immigration. People should be accepted as immigrants because of their qualifications, not their family ties.

This particular case may cry out for an exception, but where's the limit?

It amazes me how ignorant people are - even though it shouldn't.

What kind of society would not have empathy for a three year old brought to this country who?

What kind of society invites educated immigrants from all over the world and throws away educated migrants already here?

The kind of society that was created through the genocide of American Indians and the hypocrisy of closing off borders and calling themselves "real" amerikans.

He is breaking the law and should be arrested. If I break the law I would be arrested, why the double standard?

so where does Pedro Ramirez work with no SSN, or was it a fake SSN if he did work. How did he get a drivers license? Allot of questions and all of the answers are bad for America! It's very hard to beleive that he was dupped by his parents and never knew he was an Illegal. However I say let him stay and deport his far less than homorable parents. If Pedro does in the future get deported there is only two people to blame Mom and Dad. I really hate it when people blame "America" for upholding it laws.

Lets see, breaking our laws, stealing our services, and gaming our system...why do we have little sympathy for illegals?

Illegal is Illegal, I don't care about the background story

So, he's receiving scholarships that could have gone to a US citizen.....Nice

the Dream Act will send a big global green light to all wanting to come to the US and not play by OUR RULES that if you get in and manage to do what it takes to exist and bring your children, perhaps young enough to create plausible deniability, your sacrifices and bet will pay-off like with Pedro, when special exemptions carved out for the Pedros. In-the-meantime the parents and children and similarly-situated friends live for years in frustration as 2nd class citizens, festering with resentment, that upon a Pedro-like pay-off, makes for a huge new swath of voters that vote to further dilute OUR RULES creating a potential legislative spiral, that in my view, ultimatly dilutes the very foundations that made our democracy and thus the US a great civilization that makes us the beacon that attracts people from all over the world in the first place. A huge negative feedback loop in the bigger scheme of things. And we have a professor at UCLA that has been advocating just this stategy for years as a not-so-subtle trojan-horse to weaken private property rights and assert a Marxist ideology. The Dream Act's passage at this moment absent comprehensive immigration reform is dangerous. Unfortunately for Pedro and many others, they have only their parents to blame for this regrettable state-of-limbo that has only been aided and abetted by state and local legislatures and vested school interests that have allowed Pedro to attend OUR public schools for so long. Had he been told as a prospective kindergarden student that he would be unable to attend school, his parents would have beat a hasty retreat and secured themselves a rightful place in a line created by OUR RULES. this is totally disengenous. Pedro should immediately resign and leave this country whether he knows anyone or not.

I hate to break this to you Cyndy Greger, but if it was as easy as just "starting paperwork" than all the undocumented students in the country would be in the process of becoming citizens. You make it sound like he didn't want to be bothered.

You you really must have meant was; starting paperwork to become a legal resident. That's easier said than done. I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to go back to Mexico, where there are daily cartel related killings and start what could be a 2 to 5 year process just to come back in the country legally. You see it's not as easy as starting paperwork.

Without the Dream Act there are thousands of students like Pedro who want to become productive and contributing citizens, but are stuck because of choices made by their parents.

every time i read these comments i get furious! do none of you stop to think for a moment?! this guy graduated as valedictorian from his high school, was a student rep through college and his now president. he he no clue he was undocumented until recently. isn't this EXACTLY the type of case where our immigration system should demonstrate leniency and compassion? i say more power to him and wish him luck -- california should be so lucky to have such a member of our community.

He is a Mexican citizen.

If he pays the same "tuition" rate as other foreigners, that's fine as long as US Immigration agrees. He really should be paying all the back fees as well.

If not, he should return to his home country of Mexico.

Epic fail. You just deported yourself and got Fresno State President John D. Welty fired.

You are taking the spot of a more qualified out of state person.

I hope things work out in his favor.

Kens - You demand? DEMAND?? You are in no position to demand. You’re only a U.S. Citizen in California (which is part of Aztlán).

Viva National Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán!

We are looking an illegal immigrant who came here with his family and was able to get into college. We now know that his mom and dad was able to displace some Americans out of opportunity in order for him to get into college. Now he is doing the same to the next generation of American citizens.
Our state is now crumbling under the strain that illegal immigrants put on our system and this is an example of it. When an illegal immigrant can become a student body president of an American University that should put up a red flag to the problems we are facing. Why are we not doing our best to get our own citizens a college education before the illegal immigrant and his family? We have enough American citizens here to raise and educate. We are failing our own and spending our tax dollars helping those here illegally.
That is one of the main reasons why our state is now 25 billion dollars in debt!
At one point we stopped taking care of our own and now we say that the illegal immigrant and his family is the definition of the American dream.

Its too bad. There are a million other things we should worry about when it comes to immigration. Change the laws, change college entrance requirements, change, change, change...If a soldier who is illegal can fight for this country, then why can't they go to college? No logic there. As for people with racist remarks, I'm sure they wouldn't be complaining if Pedro was here illegally serving them their food or taking care their friend's kids.

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