Friday, February 13, 2009

In-State Tuition Bill for Illegal Immigrants Skirts Intent of Law

State Senator Chris Romer has proposed a bill, SB09-170, that would grant post-secondary in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. Sen. Romer reasons that it is unfair to punish children for the decisions of adults (their parents) who chose to enter America in direct violation of our immigration laws. The Romer bill is deeply flawed on multiple levels.

For starters, neither is it the fault of the children of tax-paying American citizens that native Mexican adults along with their children have crossed our sovereign borders and taken up illegal residence in the United States. American children are already being negatively impacted (‘punished,’ if you will) by the drain of dollars away from their K-12 education and into the massive accommodations being made for the children of illegals. It now appears that Sen. Romer also wishes to grant to illegal immigrants in-state college tuition benefits that are denied to out-of-state American students.

Public schools from kindergarten through high school are already required by federal law to educate all children, regardless of their immigration status. Higher education, on the other hand, while coveted by some, is not a prerequisite for making a success of oneself in America, although the Higher Education elites such an education as "fact." In fact, many citizens hold only high school degrees or GED’s are business owners or are gainfully employed in essential occupations. Additionally, with colleges and universities placing limits on their enrollments, citizens, who do wish to pursue advanced degrees, will under this bill, have to compete with non-citizens for fewer available slots.

Ten other states have passed similar legislation, and currently find themselves embroiled in lawsuits filed against their respective state governments by citizens, who have every reasonable right to expect that government will work on their behalf. Citizens also have a reasonable right to expect that government will work against any requirement to provide what is tantamount to taxpayer-financed college educations for the grown children of people who illegally crossed U. S. borders.

Handing out in-state tuition to illegal immigrants is a slap in the faces of both legal immigrants and American citizens! For example, in California the average household must contribute at least $1,200 each year to subsidize the deficit between what illegal immigrants cost in services and what they pay in taxes.

Even if a good argument could be made for such poor policy, these ten states are announcing far and wide that illegal immigration is now an American institution replete with numerous benefits! These states have brazenly cast aside the constraints imposed by Congress and the U.S. Constitution, and inevitably, American citizens are challenging state governments over this inequitable law. The result will continue to be extensive and expensive litigation, and of course, taxpayers always foot the bill for court costs.

Should Sen. Romer’s bill pass through the Legislature, Coloradans will also contest bad policy. Additionally, out-of-state U.S. citizens and legal immigrants will rightfully request the same low in-state tuition benefits that are proposed for illegals. Financial resources that are much-needed for state infrastructure will be frittered away inside Colorado court rooms.

Let’s look at some realities:

  • Over the past three decades every “compassionate” gesture, designed to help immigrants assimilate—bilingual education, ever-expanding and new state welfare programs, the affirmation of a hyphenated identity, and the radical historical revisionism of southwestern American history—has actually proven to be harmful to the processes of assimilation and economic improvement for large portions of the Mexican-American community.
  • After 20 years in the country, even legal Mexican immigrants have double the welfare rates of American citizens. The high school dropout rates of Mexican-Americans (both second and third generation) are two and a half times that of other natives. By age 17 Mexican immigrants are 50 percent more likely to identify themselves as Mexicans, as opposed to Mexican-Americans. By the same token, many Mexicans, who are living in “apartheid” communities across the nation romanticize Mexico—a country which gave them nothing and prompted them to flee—and deprecate the United States, which provided them with sanctuary.
  • In Colorado approximately 57 percent of U.S. resident students of Hispanic heritage do not graduate from high school, despite the fact that every child in America, regardless of immigrant status, is guaranteed by law a K-12 education at taxpayer expense. Adding benefit upon benefit appears to have done little, if anything, to assist U.S. residents of Hispanic heritage to assimilate and advance their own cause.
  • Neither is it a foregone conclusion that providing in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants would result in a revenue advantage for the American economy. Expatriates enrich Mexico’s coffers with the U. S. dollars they earn in America. One study estimated that an approximate $13.3 billion goes south across the U. S.-Mexican border every year. It stands to reason then that much of taxpayers’ investment in higher education for illegals might very well flow into Mexican banks if graduates are able to obtain gainful employment.
  • Reputable employers will not violate the law by hiring an illegal alien either with or without a college degree. Of course there are those employers who will place profits above patriotism.
Apologists for such bills contend that illegal immigrants "do the work Americans won’t do." On the other hand, these same supporters of in-state tuition benefits declare it unfair that illegal immigrants are forced to work as unskilled laborers because they lack education. Which is it going to be?

Not only are the premises of this proposed bill contradictory to one another, but the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Section 505, provides that: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any post secondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”

Sen. Romer has craftily worded SB090-170 in such a way that one, if pressed, could argue that his bill can also be applied to citizens in high schools across the U.S. In truth, however, the wording of the bill, requiring a student to attend a Colorado high-school for at least three years, is cleverly designed to make available taxpayer-funded college educations primarily to students, who are illegally residing in Colorado. Romer’s bill is a deliberate evasion of the intent of current law. Legislators, who purposely attempt to sidestep the law, are doing a real disservice to the constituents whom they serve. I would strongly suggest that legislators, who are willing to play fast and loose with the principle of an existing law, reassess their motivations for remaining in office.

Ultimately, giving to illegal immigrants a benefit to which even all American citizens are not entitled, signifies a breach of trust by government--a government that is, first and foremost, duty-bound to extend compassion towards American children and to protect and defend all of her citizens. Weighing down the parents of American children with ever-increasing tax burdens, in order to provide benefits for illegal immigrants, sends a loud and clear message to citizens. Lamentably, that message is neither one of fair play nor compassion.