MARCH 30, 2011
Although Oregon is suffering through a dire budget crisis that will drastically slash funding for public education, state lawmakers are working to give illegal immigrants discounted tuition at taxpayer-funded colleges and universities.Ten states currently offer the perk, which costs U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually, while several have reversed the outrageous and controversial policy in the last few years. Among states that still give illegal aliens heavily discounted in-state tuition at public institutions of higher learning are Texas, Utah, Washington, New York and California.Earlier this month California lawmakers introduced a measure to also give illegal immigrants millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded scholarships and financial aid in addition to cheaper tuition. Known as the California Dream Act, the bill is quickly making its way through the state legislature and has a great chance of becoming law because, unlike his predecessor who thrice vetoed it, Governor Jerry Brown has vowed to sign it.Oregon’s measure won’t go that far but will still offer undocumented students a huge tuition discount, currently reserved for the state’s legal residents, if they graduate from a local high school. The state’s senate approved the bill this week with a comfortable margin and it will head to the House, where it appears to have support from both Democrats and Republicans.The timing couldn’t be worse because, like many states across the nation, Oregon is suffering through a monstrous budget shortfall that will severely cut many public services including education. The difference between in-state tuition at theUniversity of Oregon is $8,190 compared to $25,000 for out-of-state or international students, including illegal aliens. Universities would therefore give up crucial revenue from students who would otherwise pay the much-higher nonresident rates.But students shouldn’t be punished because their parents brought them to the U.S.illegally, say Oregon lawmakers pushing the law. They insist kids should not be penalized for their parents’ actions and that the state should encourage all students to be productive residents after investing in years of public education through high school.Driving home the argument in a tear-jerking speech, a Republican state senator who sponsored the law, asked: “Have these children broken the law when many were carried into this country in the arms of their mother?”
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