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Fresno State’s student body president admits to being illegal immigrant, won’t resign

interns Contributor
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Pedro Ramirez, Fresno State University’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.”

Full story: Fresno State student body president acknowledges he is an illegal immigrant, refuses to step down