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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)

Pedro is exactly what Mexico needs to pull it into prosperity. Send him down there to help his people. They really need him.

You know, I don't think he should step down or be voted out of his position. He was not told the truth by his parents and he was raised to believe that he is American. I feel sorry for many of the children that have to deal with this due to their parents bringing them here undocumented. What a mess for the child. I am so mixed on this situation and situations like this young mans. I want the illegals out, but this young man has not done anything wrong and by the time he found out that he was not legal he has already became and still chooses to be and American. Sad situation, but I am proud of him and any young man or woman, regardless of nationality, for improving their education and being a good role model. I hope you are able to get your citizen ship.


He's been breaking the law all his life!

Here is the way I see it. As a US Citizen living in California, I am all for attracting the best and brightest people from other states and countries to California along with their ambition and motivation to achieve all of their goals. Please bring them to us. If he beat someone out for a seat, then I want the guy who won. I think people should focus on sending deadbeats and criminals of all races, ethnicities and immgration status to a far away island outside of the US. How stupid are we that we waste our time and engery and trying to rid ourselves of the best and brightest?

Let me add that I hope they hunt down his parents and deport them, they are the ones that came here illegally before this young man ever had a say about where he was going to grow up. DEPORT THE PARENTS NOW, what a way to really screw up your child. I agree illegal is illegal, but he didn't even know until he was a young man.

Bernie Maddoff's kids probably thought their father was earning an honest living, and that they would inherit a bundle. It is heart wrenching they will have to leave their nice digs on the Upper West side. But such is life. If this young man is such a prize, I am sure Mexico needs him more than we do. In the meantime, how do we get reimbursed for the $180,000+ we spent on his K-12 education -- there is no way a 'restaurant worker' paid that in taxes.

Clearly the next step for California will be the allowing of illegals to vote and stand for public office.

Also, it's not as though California is going to be held to account for doing that either given the Federal government's current view on enforcing immigration laws.

All this and the observable fact that idiots like this "Student Body President" did not do the right thing by seeking to get US citizenship or residency when he found out he was illegal.

you are all missing the point ere. Its not about race !! most latinos are quick to say its the man or white america that does this to them. A quick thinking indivisual if your not happy then the door is right there. Do not ask for rights regular american citizens of all creeds have. Rather do whats right and fix your problem. As far as anchor children there should be a clause that prevents them from anything like becoming an anchor. LIke unable to qualify for petitions on family unless its the spouse. Im a latino mexican at that. I am not against doing what is right but the question begs how much charity do we extend. What about all the other immigrants that do things the right way. whats thier reward? being laughed at by the ones whom broke the law and got what they wanted anyway? Also this guy needs to step down. "Serious vato..que pensabas? estudia luego que termines vamos ver si puedes quedarte. "That means study and then we will see if the government accepts you. Besides the fact that for at least a long while 1 year you will be an unproductive illegal with a degree cause no one can hire you!!! dam back to selling oranges off the freeway. ? ust resign bro your only placing more emphasis on why illegals strain the system...

I have no problem with Pedro Ramirez being student body president. He is a law abiding non-citizen.

The unseen victims

A US citizen Californian that was rejected from Fresno State because this guy took his or her place.

A kid from Iowa who wants to study in California, but has to pay out of state tuition.

The Anglo child who was denied resources because of money that went into teaching Pedro and others like him English.

The working class white family who need to put their children into a private school to get them same quality education they got, because our schools are inundated with the children of immigrants who perform poorly.

The student (perhaps white) that lost against Pedro, who no doubt had the local MEChA and La Raza student vote.

California, with its $24 Billion deficit, in large part caused by the education costs of children of illegals (whether born here or not)

Me, paying 9% sales tax ... used to be 6% before the demographic transformation of California via immigration.

The US citizen, who has voted, through their representatives, for a specific immigration policy, but has had that policy flouted by people like Pedro's parents and their employers.

Perhaps, someone who has had their ID stolen by one of Pedro's parents

Also, please notice that Pedro's parents must have come here immediately *after* the last amnesty.

why doesnt he apply? duh

My son is an American citizen who worked very hard to get good grades and ready himself for HIS try at the "American Dream". This year we found that not only can we no longer afford to send him, but with many schools cutting the number students coming in, he was unable to go. Where is he to find his dream? What about his younger siblings? I feel compassion for those who come here for a better life, but do it legally. My ancester did so many generations ago. I don't think it's fair that criminals (illegals from any country are just that) to take the spot of a legal citizen. And now I find myself slipping over the edge and becoming prejudice due to things just like this that directly effect MY family. Hurray for "Legal Tender" and family for doing it the proper way!

"Here is the way I see it. As a US Citizen living in California, I am all for attracting the best and brightest people from other states and countries to California along with their ambition and motivation to achieve all of their goals. Please bring them to us. If he beat someone out for a seat, then I want the guy who won. I think people should focus on sending deadbeats and criminals of all races, ethnicities and immgration status to a far away island outside of the US. How stupid are we that we waste our time and engery and trying to rid ourselves of the best and brightest?"

I sympathize with the human side of illegal immigration, but I still feel and know that it's wrong in my heart. My mom immigrated to this country legally, and if she can do it others should too.

It's not fair for all the people waiting patiently to come in the country legally. It's not fair for everyone who is trying to do the right thing, the right way. What is the point of having rules at all? Why should we even have immigration laws if an entire group of people are allowed to not follow them? What is the benefit for someone to do things the legal way?

I hear a lot of people saying he's just the kind of person we want in this country--and he is--but the question needs to be framed as "what about everyone else?" The argument can't be just that these are good people (they are, for the vast majority). The argument is whether or not it's right and equitable to ignore lawbreaking for one group and enforce it for everyone else. It's not.

His whole education from grade 1 on has been illegally obtained at U.S. Taxpayers expense by impersonating a U.S. Citizen and his illegal parents have been living a lie.

Why blame anyone for coming to a country and taking a job no one else would do? Why give him so much grief over having the right to an education? I'm amazed at the amount of ignorance people still have about these immigration issues.

"Oh, they're taking jobs away."
"They're raping and killing our children. They're criminals."

Wah, wah, wah.

And he's the SCHOOL BODY PRESIDENT!!! How is that going to affect us out of school? I doubt Federal rules apply to that kind of office.

Yes he is illegal in this country but at least he has worked hard to get to the position he is in now. If there was a more deserving US Citizen he would be in the position but obviously Pedro is a smart, hardworking man who has worked for what he wants not sit on his ass talking about other people. Stop the racism and support the Dream Act!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Pedro!!!

What about all the ethical, honest, and law abiding people who are waiting patiently in line to immigrate the proper and legal way? Why should these law breakers be rewarded? Your parents put you in this percarious status - not the other immigrants and not the citizens of the U.S.

He will probably become another socialist politican and assist in giving the Southwest back to Mexico because that is what Mexicans truly believe - that this is their country

hes just taking the spot of a deserving white student, i wont beat around the bush anymore its about time we came foreward and said it, obviously we put immigration laws that make it impossible for anyone to come here unless they 1) are directly hired by a company and declared critical to the survival of the country and that no american can do the job 2) Invest around a million in a company or 3) Get married and be pettitioned by an american while they are in their country of origin unless they come from a country that has historically low immigration levels (a very limited number) or theyre cuban and land in america because cubans are cool theyre usually republicans anyways

well those are the actual laws (look it up if you dont believe me) besides that there is now other way for most people to come to america and we make them that way for a reason, stop saying get to the back of the line, there is no line for most of these people, stop sugarcoating it, we do these laws to keep the country pure, in only a few decades the country will be overrun and the whites will be a minority

I note that this situation is complicated, but it also suggests that as an immigrant he may be harder working and more motivated than most native born students.

Absurd laws lead to absurd situations. This is one.
We need rational and enforceable laws in order to avoid becoming a second-rate nation. Most of the other commentaries here are absurd.

You needa hide yo kids, hide yo wife and hide yo husbands too... cuz them Dream Act eligible candidates are successfully filling the positions that less qualified US Citizens have applied for.

Last time i checked, my two year old son had no say where he wanted to sleep and eat . These kids have been put in a very unique situation and they have made the most out of it. These Dream Act kids, once legalized, will probably make more money and become more successfully than some of you "hater" conservatives will ever know. If a legalized, well qualified Dream Act candidate wants a position at my company and is going up against an American citizen that doesn't have an education and just likes to complain via online comment boxes, GUESS WHO I AM PICKING.

I'm picking Pedro Ramirez.

ps - you conservatives are probably still using AOL email addresses. LOL

He should be welcomed back in Mexico. Call ICE.

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