Three weeks ago, two students hung a banner that proclaimed “Build a wall” — the “wall” being Donald Trump’s proposed barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border — in a hallway of heavily-Hispanic Forest Grove High School. The response: highly-publicized, anti-banner protests by students and their supporters at FGHS and throughout the region.

At a protest in downtown Portland, some leveled claims that Hispanic students, at FGHS and other schools, are routinely victimized by racial bias. State-legislative candidate Diego Hernandez, reported Pamplin Media Group’s Joseph Gallivan, decried an alleged “history of discrimination at Forest Grove High School.” He was joined by United We Stand’s Eddie Bolaños, who issued a statement “‘demanding a change of policy and protocols, and an action plan’ to deal with systematic racism in the schools.”

This is interesting. “Systematic racism” — leveled against Hispanic students? Let’s look at one of the “policies and protocols” that, for years, already has been aimed at young Hispanics: affirmative action.

Princeton University professor Russell K. Nieli, summarizing a 2009 study of elite colleges’ admissions data by two of his Princeton colleagues, reported that “being Hispanic conferred an admissions boost over being white ... equivalent to 130 SAT points (out of 1600).” The University of Michigan’s Mark J. Perry capsulated data from the Association of American Medical Colleges to show that from 2007 to 2009, medical-school applicants with GPAs of 3.00 to 3.19 and MCAT scores of 24 to 26 were almost 10 times likelier to be admitted if they were Hispanic, black or Native American than if they were white or Asian.

And, reported Capitol Media Services’ Howard Fischer, a 2008 study by the Center for Equal Opportunity found that at Arizona State University’s law school “a Hispanic is 85 times more likely to be admitted ... than a white with equal qualifications.”

Even young Hispanics here illegally (Hispanics, the Pew Research Center reports, have recently comprised four-fifths of illegal immigrants) are sometimes favored for college admissions over their American peers.

In 2011, for instance, Maryland required its state universities to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. Afterward, former University of Maryland assistant dean James Purtilo told Fox News admissions personnel routinely favored illegal immigrants over Americans because they helped “fill out the diversity picture for the admissions office.”

And what, specifically, of Oregon?

In 2013 the state legislature passed and Gov. John Kitzhaber signed House Bill 2787, which grants certain illegal immigrants — those who entered the United States as minors and graduated from Oregon high schools — in-state tuition to the state’s public universities. In 2015 lawmakers went further, approving Senate Bill 932, which credentials illegal-immigrant college students to compete with U.S. citizens for taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grant scholarships.

And to ice the cake, that year they also passed House Bill 2407, which gives illegal immigrants race-based preferences for those scholarships over American students.

Hard to believe? Here’s how it works: HB 2407’s text authorizes the state Office of Student Access and Completion to “prioritize awarding Oregon Opportunity Grants to qualified students ... whose circumstances would enhance the promotion of equity guidelines published by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission.” Those guidelines, explains Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, are based upon an “equity lens” whose purpose is to maximize “funding for students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.”

And foremost among those “underrepresented” groups? Illegal-immigrant youths, who are overwhelmingly Hispanic — a fact which, thanks to HB 2407, gives them preference for Oregon Opportunity Grants over white and, in many cases, Asian-American applicants.

Does all this sound like “systematic racism” against Hispanic students?

Since before the current demonstrators were born and right up to the present day, Hispanic students in Forest Grove and across the nation — including many here illegally — have benefited mightily from the affirmative-action preferences that give them significant educational advantages over their white and Asian counterparts. Rather than level unsubstantiated charges of “systematic racism” in schools, they should express appreciation for those advantages.

And they should understand they receive them for the very reason they claim they are “discriminated” against: because they are Hispanic.

Richard F. LaMountain, a former assistant editor of Conservative Digest magazine, lives in Cedar Mill.

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