In-State Tuition and a Banquet of Red Herring

Recently by Becky Akers: The TSA: Protecting Us From Bald Women and Artificial Knees

“In-state tuition!”

It doesn't seem like much of a battle cry, but link it with "illegal immigrants" – in fact, link any term with that incendiary phrase – and suddenly a full-scale war rages.

One of the latest casualties is Rick Perry, Republican governor of Texas. It was bad enough when he denounced those who "say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own" as "heart[less]." But then he defended a law passed ten years ago requiring Texas' public universities to charge "illegals" the discounted tuition they do the Lone Star State's other denizens.

(Hold your outrage a moment: the law isn't quite as easy on these criminals as it first seems. "To qualify, undocumented immigrants must show that they have lived in Texas for at least three years," – dodging ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and cops the while – "graduated from a state high school and sign an affidavit stating that they plan to seek citizenship. In contrast, U.S. citizens from other states can qualify for in-state tuition rates at Texas colleges and universities a year after establishing residency.")

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Back east, Perry's Independent counterpart in tiny Rhode Island has gone even further. Gov. Lincoln Chaffee is not only "leading a campaign that last week granted in-state tuition to unauthorized immigrants," he's also dismantl[ing] Rhode Island's vigorous campaign against illegal immigration …, ditching the E-verify system for checking workers' status, revoking the State Police's authority to enforce federal immigration laws, and … [h]e is even considering driver's licenses for immigrants living here illegally." Sure enough, "critics [are] vowing to fight Chafee's actions."

Wow, you're marveling, didn't this moron learn anything from Perry's travails? What's he thinking – or isn't he?

Here's his explanation: "'The big thing was that it wasn't working,' Chafee said …, describing his predecessor's efforts to curb illegal immigration. u2018The idea was that it would help us with our economy. It didn't accomplish that.'''

Common sense and the usually incoherent Alan Greenspan bear him out. Testifying to Congress in 2009, the latter noted, "…[T]here is little doubt that unauthorized, that is, illegal, immigration has made a significant contribution to the growth of our economy …
economists generally view the overall economic benefits of this workforce as significantly outweighing the costs."

In addition to these "economic benefits," "illegals" seldom if ever apply for the programs that xenophobes swear they swamp, such as food stamps and Medicaid, because legislation passed in 1996 prohibits them from collecting these goodies. Indeed, "the only services that illegals can still get are emergency medical care and K-12 education."

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But even if the full panoply of the welfare-state were open to them, "illegals" are unlikely to register with any governmental bureaucracy since they fear deportation. In fact, so strong is their anxiety that if they're able, they walk away from car accidents without that "emergency medical care" lest hospitals turn them over to ICE.

On the other hand, "illegals" have to eat and dress and shelter themselves and their families, just like everyone else. All those paychecks from back-breaking jobs Americans don't want enrich the neighborhood every time they shop. What community in Obummer's bankrupt fiefdom wouldn't welcome extra business, regardless of where the customer was born?

That said, I'm still with the "heartless" crowd, so much so that Perry would probably dub me downright stingy. I don't want to subsidize anyone's higher education – or lower either, for that matter. "Illegal" or legal, I don't care. Politicians and bureaucrats have no business forcing us to buy pupils a career in college, whether the student's name is Sally Smith or Jose Mirandez. Let them pay their own way.

Elemental and obvious, right? Yet we've waited lo these many weeks for any of Perry's supposedly conservative critics – you know, all those legions who claim they crave smaller government – to ask why in the heck Texas and its 49 cohorts rob citizens to subsidize the fourth-rate indoctrination centers dupes dignify as "public universities." But no: "conservatives" are too busy fulminating against "your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore" to damn Our Rulers' rank communism.

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And it's not as if the private market suffers any shortage of educational enterprises – though with state and federal grants, governmentally sponsored "research," accreditation, and reflexive lauding of Leviathan, "private" increasingly mimics "public" except for the superior quality it almost always enjoys. Yet the State squanders the money it steals from us on needless competition in these hard times.

Ironically, folks who decry the abysmal academics and even more appalling immorality of public schools begrudge both to "illegals." Shouldn't they'd be thrilled that these hordes may help push public "education" over the cliff one joyous day, freeing us all from its predations and propaganda? Instead, they shriek that "illegals" are crowding "our" schools.

They remind me of the two little old ladies complaining about the new restaurant downtown. "Ach, the food's awful," complains the first, "I can't even eat it, it's so bad."

"I know," the second nods, "and they give you such tiny little portions, too."

Yet the "limited-government" devotees fiercely defend their exclusive rights to garbage.

Impoverishing taxpayers to propagandize students is the issue, not the price an "Illegal" – or anyone else – pays for said propagandizing. Shame on conservatives for not only swallowing this red herring but feasting on it with such relish.

October 15, 2011