Calling itself America’s “oldest and largest national student association,” the United States Student Association (USSA), founded in 1947, is the principal lobbying group for American students. Its platform includes support for racial and ethnic preferences in academia, the expansion of public education benefits for illegal immigrants, and ardent opposition to America’s war on terror. USSA states that it “tracks and lobbies federal legislation and policy, and organizes students from across the country to participate in the political process, through testifying in official Congressional hearings, letter-writing campaigns, and face-to-face lobby visits between students and their elected officials.”Pursuing its aim of “expanding retention and recruitment programs for underrepresented students,” on October 28, 2003 USSA pressed for the creation of National Take Affirmative Action Day. Falling within USSA’s definition of “underrepresented students” are illegal immigrants and drug users. Rebecca Wasserman, the current President of USSA, has worked to increase access to public education for members of both those groups. An outspoken supporter of the 2003 Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which grants illegal immigrant high-school students an opportunity to attend college or serve in the U.S. armed forces, Wasserman has sought to make illegal immigrants eligible for subsidized in-state tuition. At the same time, she has lobbied to end restrictions of federal aid to drug users. Testifying before the House of Representatives on May 12, 2004, she said that USSA would not endorse a partial repeal of a no-drug-use provision in the financial aid application form. Said Wasserman, “We must pass a full repeal to guarantee access to education for all students, and education is the best rehabilitation.”
A 2002 USSA declaration authored by Julia Beatty, who was the group’s President at the time, and Kristy Ringor, who was the Communications Director during Beatty’s tenure, condemned the American-led liberation of Afghanistan. The USSA declaration rejected any “military action our government has taken since September 11,” and argued that “destroying the resources of an already impoverished nation does not promote peace and justice.” The authors then equated the PATRIOT Act with the terrorist attacks of September 11, writing that the Act had “succeeded in adding another casualty to the thousands we have seen since September 11: freedom.” Finally, they decried “the harsh racist policies of law enforcement” and pledged to “not stand idly by while our brothers and sisters are subject to racial profiling and hate crimes because of their race and religion.” USSA is a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, which is led by Leslie Cagan, a longtime committed socialist who aligns her politics with those of Fidel Castro‘s Communist Cuba. USSA has participated in numerous anti-war rallies condemning America’s post-9/11 military campaigns and exhorting the U.S. government to divest from Israel.
USSA is a sponsoring organization of the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, an open-borders entity that seeks to secure amnesty and full civil rights and liberties for illegal immigrants, as well as policy reforms that diminish or eliminate restrictions on future immigration.
USSA has received funding from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; ChevronTexaco Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Public Welfare Foundation; and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.