In-State Tuition for Illegal Immigrants Transcends Partisan Politics

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Credit: LA Times

The Republican platform committee pushed a number of anti-illegal immigration platform planks on Tuesday. On top of advocating a completed border fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and requiring employers to use a national E-Verify system when hiring new employees, the committee took a stance against in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

There haven’t been too many changes made from the 2008 GOP platform. The party is moving more to the right on several issues, including immigration, because they have to appeal to their conservative base and Tea Party activists. At the same time, they need to keep moderate Republicans happy and come up with ways to attract independent voters.

In-state tuition for non-legal residents hasn’t been a purely partisan issue. It is something plenty of Republicans and Democrats have agreed on in states across the country and have come together to pass legislation on. It is something people from all facets of the political spectrum can find common ground.

In 2001, Texas became the first state to pass an in-state tuition law that includes provisions for assisting undocumented immigrants in their pursuit of an advanced education as long as they meet certain requirements.

Texas House Bill 1403 grants illegal immigrants resident classifications for the purpose of higher education as long as they have lived in the state for three years, graduated from a Texas high school, and are actively pursuing permanent legal residency.

The number of students that take advantage of this law every year is roughly one percent of the total number of students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the state. From 2004 to 2008, Texas spent approximately $33.6 million in financial aid for students with undocumented residency status. This number will likely decrease over the next four years due to rising higher education costs and significant budget cuts during the 2011 legislative session that included reductions to financial aid funding.

HB 1403, perceived by many conservatives to be a pathway to amnesty and nicknamed the “Texas DREAM Act,” passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the 77th Texas Legislature. Only five legislators voted against the bill and it received unanimous support in the state senate. Governor Rick Perry, who signed the bill into law, adamantly defended in-state tuition for illegal immigrants during his run for the GOP presidential nomination.

Today, twelve states have laws that allow some non-legal residents an opportunity to qualify for state funded financial aid and in-state tuition rates to some degree. Along with Texas, this includes California, New York, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Maryland, and Connecticut. Wisconsin was number thirteen until they revoked their law in 2011.

There is a noticeable balance of states that are decidedly Republican and overwhelmingly Democratic that have implemented policies that allow young people, regardless of residency status, to not only attend state universities and colleges, but also to be eligible for state assistance. It is an issue that transcends partisan politics.

One major argument common among supporters of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants is that these students are sons and daughters of men and women who came to this country illegally. They were not born here, but were brought here by their parents. Their present circumstances are beyond their control. They wish to attend college  to receive an advanced education, earn a degree, and seek out better opportunities for themselves and the people they love.

However, many voters and activists on the far right have a problem with a state spending any amount of money on people they believe shouldn’t be here in the first place. It doesn’t matter how small of percentage of the overall state budget it is. It is not uncommon for conservative organizations in Texas to call for the repeal of HB 1403 during each legislative session.

The GOP has been put in a position where they have to adapt their platform to appease Tea Partiers and far right conservative voters. The voting bloc has become too important for them.

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  1. Dennis I take exception to the implication that to expect the goverment to enforce the immigration laws is a 'far right conservative' or 'Tea Partier' position. I am independent because I cannot find any party which supports values that are embodied in the constitution. To tax me to support a criminal, or the children of criminals, is insanity! Yes, I have a hard time with the idea that my wealth (what little is left after taxes!) should be used to support those who should not be here in the first place. Nor do I wish to pay for their hospitalization, incarceration, or to feed their children. There are more than enough children of US citizens that are going without! If you wish to do this, get together with like minded redistributionist types, and do yourself! Don't send your brown shirted thugs to my door to rape my wallet to pay to salve your conscience!
  2. PaulC1958 I don't what the author has been smoking, but he was high on something when he wrote this article. No matter how polarized Americans have become, there is one issue that people across the political spectrum agree on: They oppose giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. Fully 69% of Americans in a 2011 IBD/TIPP poll say they don’t favor states giving in-state college tuition to illegal residents while charging higher fees for legal, out-of-state residents. Just 22% support such a policy. 73% of Republicans are opposed vs. 20% in favor. Independents have even stronger views: 74%-15%. Even Democrats are strongly opposed 58%-32%. In fact, a majority of every major subgroup opposes giving illegals in-state tuition rates — men and women, rich and poor, urban and rural. Hispanics, who have more conflicted views over illegal immigration than is commonly known, are opposed, 54%-28%. Blacks, who often see illegal immigrants as rivals for jobs, are the most opposed, 80%-12%.
  3. Dennis Unfortunately, you are correct. Most people do not mind being in the life-boat, but they damn sure want everyone to shoulder their share of the burden, and to be in their OWN lifeboat! Chinese in China, East Bloc illegals in their own countries, as well as those from S. of our border! What is "Far Right" about that??
  4. Dennis One, your reply is thinly veiled attempt to paint those with whom you disagree as racists, is, in itself, racist, as there are plenty of persons of other colors in the US who have entered illegaly. Playing the race card is not a good argument. Second, what would you have them called? "8 U.S.C. § 1325 : US Code - Section 1325: Improper entry by alien Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both." They are here illegaly, they are aliens. End of issue. You can call a kotex a kleenex, but that won't stop public displeasure if you mistake their function in public. Illegal alien does not mean brown. it does not mean sub-human, it just means someone who is guilty of unlawfully entering the US, has not right to be here, and is subject to CRIMINAL penalties, as well as CIVIL fines, when he is arrested. What is there about the reality of what they are called that you cannot get your head around? If you want to subsidize the assimilation of foreign nationals into the US, you are entitled to. You are entitled to get together with like minded people to push their application for legal entry to the US, on YOUR dollar. Having done so, you are also entitled to pay their tuition at the school of your choice. That is what freedom is about. But NO! That's not enough for you! You want to send brown shirted thugs with guns to take MY earnings to fund YOUR vision! I resent that, and I resent being compelled, by force or threat of force, to do so! I further resent the characterization that my way of thinking is 'far right'. I can't help but disagree, with most americans in agreement with my point of view! YOU want it, YOU fund it! But send me a brochure; if you try, you can likely get me to contribute to your cause; but on MY terms...
  5. Louie Goitz ILLEGAL..ILLEGAL..ILLEGAL...repeat as needed.
  6. SolutionOriented "Whites"? Perhaps you don't understand but many Hispanics are considered "white". Your comment is aimed at keeping out people of color because you fear that "whites" not including Hispanics will become a minority. You best get over your phobia and learn to accept the benefits of such a society.
  7. Mahesh Whites are already a tiny minority in the world. Using mass immigration as a weapon, you are determined to make them a tiny minority in America also and make them extinct?
  8. Dave Mckay Funny, folks that come here properly pay the high cost then are forced out after their visa has expired! Just follow the laws that are already in place law people. What is so hard to understand about this.
  9. Louie Goitz Salesman?
  10. Louie Goitz Is a drug dealer an undocumented pharmaceutical
35 comments
Dennis
Dennis

I take exception to the implication that to expect the goverment to enforce the immigration laws is a 'far right conservative' or 'Tea Partier' position. I am independent because I cannot find any party which supports values that are embodied in the constitution.

To tax me to support a criminal, or the children of criminals, is insanity! Yes, I have a hard time with the idea that my wealth (what little is left after taxes!) should be used to support those who should not be here in the first place.

Nor do I wish to pay for their hospitalization, incarceration, or to feed their children. There are more than enough children of US citizens that are going without!

If you wish to do this, get together with like minded redistributionist types, and do yourself! Don't send your brown shirted thugs to my door to rape my wallet to pay to salve your conscience!

PaulC1958
PaulC1958

I don't what the author has been smoking, but he was high on something when he wrote this article.

No matter how polarized Americans have become, there is one issue that people across the political spectrum agree on: They oppose giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

Fully 69% of Americans in a 2011 IBD/TIPP poll say they don’t favor states giving in-state college tuition to illegal residents while charging higher fees for legal, out-of-state residents. Just 22% support such a policy.

73% of Republicans are opposed vs. 20% in favor. Independents have even stronger views: 74%-15%. Even Democrats are strongly opposed 58%-32%.

In fact, a majority of every major subgroup opposes giving illegals in-state tuition rates — men and women, rich and poor, urban and rural. Hispanics, who have more conflicted views over illegal immigration than is commonly known, are opposed, 54%-28%. Blacks, who often see illegal immigrants as rivals for jobs, are the most opposed, 80%-12%.

Dave Mckay
Dave Mckay

Funny, folks that come here properly pay the high cost then are forced out after their visa has expired! Just follow the laws that are already in place law people. What is so hard to understand about this.

Amanda L Arteno
Amanda L Arteno

yes..the Dems in my state promote it and the Reps fight it..I live in CA..we are inundated and Brown passed the CA dream act..most certainly partisan here...

Duane Dichiara
Duane Dichiara

Actually - interestingly - we were in the field polling this not a week ago. Short answer: YES, it does bring some people together. Largely Republicans and Independents, and many Democrats AGAINST in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Sidebar - we've tested this many times and it's never a 'uniter' on the yes side.

Roger Handley
Roger Handley

Foreign students who are here legally do not get in-state tuition. Why should those who violate our laws with impunity be treated better? Welcome to the Obamanation!

Dennis
Dennis

Unfortunately, you are correct. Most people do not mind being in the life-boat, but they damn sure want everyone to shoulder their share of the burden, and to be in their OWN lifeboat! Chinese in China, East Bloc illegals in their own countries, as well as those from S. of our border! What is "Far Right" about that??

Amanda L Arteno
Amanda L Arteno

CA Dream Act hurts legal citizens in favor of illegal citizens..