Abril Hernandez, a student at Southwestern Community College, sat in her car waiting in a seemingly never-ending line to cross the San Diego-Mexico border. It had already been a two-hour wait, but she knew the drill by now.
“You spend most of your time in line,” Hernandez, 33, said in Spanish. “When you finally get home you only have time for sleep.”
Hernandez, who was born in the U.S., has lived on both sides of the border while studying for an engineering degree at Southwestern College. Before her child was born, she would spend weekdays living with her father in San Diego so that she could attend class and avoid the high cost of non-resident tuition. On weekends, she would cross over to Tijuana to go home to her mother.
Hernandez now stays in San Diego full time. But for several years before her baby was born, she was one of approximately 7,000 students from kindergarten through college — among 100,000 people total — who cross the San Ysidro Port of Entry each day. Binational students living near the border, many of whom are U.S.-born children in low-income households, attend school in California but may live in Mexico because it’s more affordable.
To serve these binational students, Assemblymember David Alvarez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Bill 91 to make it easier for students who live in Mexico to attend college in California. The bill would create a five-year pilot program allowing low-income students who live in Mexico within 45 miles of the California border to pay in-state tuition to attend one of seven campuses in the San Diego and Imperial Valley Counties Community College Assn.