What exactly does it mean to be an Irish student but just not Irish enough?
That sounds pretty weird, right? But it's exactly how this group of young migrants in Ireland feel when trying to get citizenship and go to college there.
They came up with a cool animation to tell their stories and break it all down.
"We're the children of the first generation of migrants who've made Ireland home. All born outside of the EU (European Union), we came here to join our parents. We've grown up here and put down roots. Ireland is our home."
Cool … tell me more.
Most young migrants have graduated high school. Some have even started college, but they want the right to finish, get an advanced degree, and contribute to Ireland's future.
Well, that sounds great. What's the holdup?
"Did you know that if you're coming to Ireland from outside of the EU, to live and work, you need permission in the form of a stamp and your passport? You don't exist in the immigration system until you register at 16 and get your first stamp. Time spent in Ireland before this didn't count towards citizenship. We have no control over the stamps we get."
Hmmm ... that doesn't sound too fair.
"We're stuck in a system set up for working adults, not us, their children."
Whoa. What does that actually look like in real life?
If you don't have citizenship by the time you're in college, you don't qualify to go for free. (Ireland offers free college tuition to students born there.) "Through no fault of our own, we are never going to satisfy the nationality criteria. No matter how long we have lived in Ireland, we will face EU fees."
Are EU fees like paying full price for college without scholarships or student loans?
Yep. "EU fees are huge. Our parents have to pay double or triple what other students pay."
But what if your citizenship is approved while you're in college?
"If you become a citizen while you're in college, you can't reverse your fee status. Which means that you'll always have to pay," whether you're a citizen or not.
Ouch. How do people manage?
Here are some ways that students get by:
"I'm here 12 years. My parent's entire disposable income goes to my EU fees. I'm a drain on their resources."
"I'm here 12 years, and I made it into second year by the skin of my teeth. And I'm the reason my sister can't afford to start college."
"I can't go to college. I can't afford it. So I see no bright future."
Wow, that's too bad for them. But why should we care?
Aside from it being the right thing to do, having more educated folks anywhere increases the possibility of a brighter future. A robust economy creates more jobs and more innovation and helps shape a more productive world.
"By investing in us, you're investing in Ireland's future. … What will cost the Department of Education a little in the short term will save a fortune in the long term."
What can you do?
Take a peek at this video for more information:
You can also check out the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland website.