Dems trying to sneak through in-state tuition for illegal aliens
[Update: The State Senate’s Appropriations Committee has just passed SB170 by a 5-4 vote, overriding all amendments from Republicans which would have offered the same treatment to legal immigrants as illegal immigrants, pointing out that the bill is almost certainly in violation of federal law and will lose when it gets challenged unless the same benefits are offered to everyone as to illegals. I wonder if the Democrats understood the irony when they said those provisions would bankrupt state institutions of higher education. Next, the measure will go to a vote of the full State Senate instead of dying in committee, as it should have. In a darkly amusing moment, Senator Chris Romer, the sponsor of the bill, suggested the pro-illegal immigrant side would bring in President George W. Bush “who thinks this is a good idea."]
In a perfect example of how Democrats think and behave, the Democratic chairman of the Colorado State Senate’s Appropriations Committee, Abel Tabia, has rescheduled a committee vote on SB170, which would give in-state tuition subsidies to illegal immigrants, to take advantage of the absence of Republican senator Ted Harvey who is out of state to help move his father-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s, to a treatment facility.
The measure, which would have died in committee if voted on with Senator Harvey’s presence on the day it had previously been scheduled for, will likely get out of the committee and go to a full floor vote in his absence. It’s probably better than 50/50 to pass on the floor, given the Democrats’ majority.
The Democrats who support this measure make the ridiculous claim that it won’t cost the state any money to allow illegal aliens to attend state universities for less than the cost of providing that education.
The measure appears to be in violation of at least two federal statues:
Title 8, Section 1621 of the Federal Code says that illegal aliens are “not eligible for any State or local public benefit", including “any retirement, welfare, health, disability, public or assisted housing, postsecondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of a State or local government or by appropriated funds of a State or local government.”
And Title 8, Section 1623 is extremely specific, anticipating that supporters of illegal immigrants might try to circumvent Section 1621:
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 postsecondary 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.
In other words, a state cannot offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens without offering that same tuition rate to any citizen of the United States.
SB170 “Requires that a person, regardless of immigration status, who attends a Colorado high school for at least 3 years and enrolls in a Colorado institute of higher education within 5 years after either graduating from a Colorado high school or earning a general education diploma in Colorado shall be charged the same tuition rate and shall be eligible for tuition assistance under the same criteria as a person who establishes domicile in Colorado.”
So, SB170 is in direct opposition to Federal law.
But that’s not all. It’s against the rule of law, common sense, financial sense, and even political sense.
I am not an “immigration hawk". I’d like to see more immigration into this country. But not illegal immigration. SB170 is just another in the list of magnets for illegal aliens that encourages law-breaking.
It’s against common sense: The idea that this won’t cost the state anything is ridiculous. And since state colleges have limited space, the idea that an admission to an American citizen and resident of Colorado who can only afford to attend college with the in-state tuition rate (effectively a subsidy) would be eliminated in favor of an illegal alien is reprehensible.
It’s against financial sense: The state will end up spending many thousands of dollars (maybe over a million) defending this statute in court…and I think the state will lose. (Of course I’d hope they lose.)
And it’s against political sense: Any politician who votes for this bill will have the vote used extremely effectively against them in their next elections.
According to the Denver Post, “A 2006 opinion from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, said the state cannot offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants without offering the same rate to out-of-state students.”
Several other states have passed similar legislation, and there are legal challenges in process. One in Kansas was thrown out because the court said that the plaintiff did not have standing to sue. Not surprisingly, the state leading the charge to give in-state tuition to illegal aliens is California. While a district court threw out the first challenge to the law, the state Court of Appeals reversed that decision and ruled that the state law violated federal law. The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. The trial should occur this year.
California is arguing, as other states have, that their law is really based on whether a student has attended a high school in the state rather than based on immigration status. In other words, they’re saying that an out-of-state resident who went to a boarding school in California would qualify for in-state tuition.
It’s a tricky argument, but if you read the text of Section 1621, it is clear that illegal aliens are not eligible for state tuition benefits, regardless of their place of residency. Furthermore, even though Section 1623 mentions residency specifically, attending a school in a particular place is arguably the same thing as residency since for all practical purposes, someone has to live in that place to attend the school, particularly if we’re talking about a boarding school.
The move by the Democrats to bring up this bill in committee today because they knew it would fail if it came up on its prior schedule (on Friday) because of the absence of a legislator is simply disgusting.
Everything about this bill is poorly considered and not in the interest of the State of Colorado.
I and others will make sure that all of you know who supported this bill, and I trust you will do what you can to make them pay (with their jobs) during their next elections.
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