Special Report: Class Struggle
At Framingham town hall, the Rizoli brothers are taping their local cable TV show, a weekly protest against the estimated half million illegal immigrants who enter the U.S. each year, and the thousands now living in Framingham.
"Something has to be done now," Rizoli said. "Somebody has to take this bull by the horns and say we have to stop this."
In Lowell, young immigrants want to take Beacon Hill by the horns. They want state law changed to give illegal immigrants who graduate from high school and have lived here three years the same tuition breaks at state colleges that residents get, a savings of about $10,000 a year.
"I was a 3.9 GPA student for high school. I was a member of the national honor society," one illegal immigrant, who asked 7News not to use his name, said.
This 19-year-old couldn’t afford to go to college, and said he didn't choose to come here illegally.
"My parents brought me here, so I didn't have the decision to say ‘yes I want to go there or not,’" he said.
"I believe that nobody is illegal," another alien said.
Another teenager worries her education will end when she graduates from high school.
"The fact that we were born in another country doesn't mean that we are different," she said. "We're all human beings and I think we're all the same."
Not when it comes to benefits, according to Lorrie Hall. She founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Immigration Reform.
"They come here, take our jobs and demand all the rights of citizenship, which is what's happening," Hall said.
Hall's group opposes tuition breaks at state colleges for illegal immigrants.
"American parents have a very difficult time sending their own children to school and they understandably don't want to subsidize illegals when they can hardly pay for their own," Hall said.
An immigration advocate in Massachusetts who's heard all the arguments for and against illegals says there is common ground.
"I think we're all victims," Ali Noorani said.
Noorani also thinks we’re all frightened.
"There's a palpable sense of fear, both on the part of the citizen community, of 'who are these people?' but also on the part of the immigrant community, of 'everybody's out to get me.'" Noorani said.
There are clearly two sides to this story and, just as clearly, state voters support one.
When we asked if illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts get a tuition break at state colleges, 14 percent said yes, 79 percent said no in a 7News-Suffolk University poll.
If the margin is that wide on this issue, then there may not be any issue illegal immigrants can win on Beacon Hill.
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