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Illegal Immigrants getting tuition break in Colorado

John Cox, Flickr

It seems like it should be a no brainer: if you are in the United States illegally, you should not be able to enroll in a public university.  And you certainly should not be entitled to attend said university for less money than a U.S. citizen attending from out of state.  But as we have all learned over the last few years, there are many things that are apparently being allowed to slide in the immigration department.  I was born in the United States, Texas to be exact!  When I enrolled in college back in 1990, I had to provide a birth certificate, a driver’s license and a social security card.  Apparently, you don’t even need to pony up the birth certificate to get elected president in this country!  Well, that’s another article altogether.

My point being, I had to prove who I was and where I came from to enroll.  In Denver, Colorado, Metropolitan State College has made the move to allow illegal immigrant students to pay the in-state tuition rate.  The college’s board of trustees voted 7-1 today to lower the out-of-state per semester tuition from $7,992 to $3,358.30 for “undocumented”, Colorado-educated students.   To qualify, an undocumented student must have attended an in-state high school for at least three years. In-state students pay $2,152 per semester.  What’s not clear is will out of state students (who are either natural born or naturalized citizens) get the same break or will they continue to pay the $7,992 per semester rate?  The Colorado Attorney General is looking into the matter.

I spoke with Julie Gaynor in Midwestern State University’s Office of Public Information and Marketing about MSU’s policy on illegal immigrant students.  She stated that policy in this area is directed by S.B. 1528 (and formerly SB 1403).  We tend to get caught up in the emotion of ‘how can we deny any student the right to an education’.  And there, I think, is the biggest problem; we consider education a right.  Is it necessary?  Of course, an educated society is a functional society, no doubt about that, but a right?  Not at all.

The U.S. Constitution does not declare education to be a right.  In fact, the argument can be made that the Tenth Amendment delegates this to the states.  The U.S. Department of Education was created by President Carter in 1979.  Critics argue it was his pay-off for the teachers unions’ support of his 1976 campaign.  Budgets are stressed in public education and colleges are suffering the same woes.  MSU and hundreds of other public colleges have raised tuition and fees trying to make up ground.  So why should we allow those who are here illegally to attend?  According to Gaynor, these students would not be eligible for financial aid, but aid or not, there are costs associated with educating them that the taxpayer will ultimately have to cover.  They are, after all ‘public’ colleges by virtue of the fact that the taxpayer is footing some of the bill.  And as for the identification requirements, the half-dozen online college applications I’ve examined call for a social security number at the very least.

Since we obviously cannot get that information from someone who does not have it (the illegal immigrant is required by MSU to sign an affidavit stating they intend to apply for resident alien status as soon as possible) could a citizen of this country mount a legal challenge to the requirements?  After all, if you’re going to give one person a pass on the social security card or birth certificate or other identification requirements, wouldn’t it just be fair to give everyone the same pass?  Starting to sound like a liberal, aren’t I?  Don’t get excited.

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