California's public universities have long provided safe passage for young undocumented immigrants hoping to work their way into society and shake their illegal status.

So as the California Supreme Court reconsiders a law that lets undocumented students pay in-state tuition prices — a fraction of what out-of-staters pay — Asian American groups are up in arms.

Yes, that's right. Asian Americans.

Who knew that nearly half of the undocumented immigrants in the UC system are Asian Americans?

“It's surprising to most people,” says Carmina Ocampo, an attorney at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, which co-wrote a brief defending the law that has helped thousands of immigrants afford college in California. “Undocumented Asian Americans are an invisible population of students.”

Campos says many undocumented Asian American students arrive in California legally with their families. Then their VISAs expire when they're too young to know what a VISA is. Many don't even find out they're undocumented until they're about to apply to college.

Immigration groups and their supporters worry that if California amends the law, AB 540, to exclude undocumented immigrants, other states will follow suit. Nearly a dozen states have similar laws on the books.


Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.