Friday, May 06, 2005

Gift to illegals could endanger in-state tuition

Should illegal aliens be granted in-state tuition to Minnesota colleges and universities?

That is exactly the consequence of a provision in the Minnesota Senate’s omnibus higher education bill (SF 2265), debated and passed yesterday:
Sec. 5.  [135A.53] [RESIDENT TUITION.] 
9.1 (a) A student shall qualify for a resident tuition rate or
9.2 its equivalent at state universities and colleges, including the
9.3 University of Minnesota, if the student meets all of the
9.4 following requirements:
9.5 (1) high school attendance within the state for three or
9.6 more years;
9.7 (2) graduation from a state high school or attainment
9.8 within the state of the equivalent of high school graduation;
9.9 and
9.10 (3) registration as an entering student at, or current
9.11 enrollment in, a public institution of higher education.
9.12 (b) This section is in addition to any other statute, rule,
9.13 or higher education institution regulation or policy providing
9.14 eligibility for a resident tuition rate or its equivalent to a
9.15 student.

Sen. David Gather (R-Plymouth), attempted to amend the bill with this requirement: “and is lawfully present in the United States.” Incredibly, the amendment failed by a vote of 20 to 43, a fact which somehow did not make it into the Star Tribune’s coverage of the bill (“Senate bill proposes $239M for higher ed”). Republicans Bill Belanger, Steve Dille, Bob Kierlan, Paul Koering, Cal Larson, Thomas Neuville, Gen Olson, Claire Robling, Julie Rosen, and David Senjem helped to defeat fellow Republican Senator Gaither’s amendment.

How can Senators (and in some cases lawyers and officers of the court) vote to provide this benefit to individuals residing in the United States illegally, not only condoning the crime but encouraging it?

How can the state justify, let alone pay for, this benefit to illegal aliens that is not available to citizens? The concept of in-state tuition, which makes college more affordable for our state’s residents, could be phased out altogether.

Granting this benefit to illegals would result in millions of dollars in lost revenue to Minnesota’s colleges and universities, and raises questions about the number of illegal aliens currently enrolled in the state’s K-12 public schools and receiving expensive special education and English as a Second Language (ESL) services. Opening wide the doors of our colleges and universities with this subsidy to illegal aliens would be a slap in the face to the legal immigrants and natural born citizens who play by the rules to live, be educated, and work in this land of opportunity. It must not survive conference committee or be signed into law by Governor Pawlenty.

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