Education; higher; Educational equalization; Illegal alien children; Minorities in higher education; Right to education; Universities and colleges entrance requirements


The status of access to higher education for undocumented students in this country is inconsistent from state to state, region to region, and the nation at large. This inconsistency is reflected in the development of policies and legislation that either provide or limit access to an affordable higher education for these students. Beneath the external debates regarding the application of instate tuition rates for undocumented students exists an underlying struggle embedded within an inherent cultural, societal, and systemic bias around beliefs, power, and privilege.

The marginalization of undocumented students in accessing higher education—as evidenced by the absence of social justice, equity, and equality—has created an underground movement that is based in feminist and critical race theory descriptions of “outlaw culture.” This framework encapsulates the phenomenon of outlaw culture within the confines of systemic barriers, whereby those in positions closest to the front lines of service and access to higher education may become “outlaws” in bending, breaking, or circumventing the rules and regulations that perpetuate inequity and inequality and inhibit a socially just process for undocumented students. Implications regarding policy and practices to address socially just, equitable, and equal processes for access to higher education for undocumented students are presented for future consideration.