As the community college system has discovered over the last few weeks, using state funds to educate illegal immigrants is a bad idea. As Ron Woodard states below, this policy is both illegal and unfair. As president of NC Listen, Ron has been advocating for immigration reform here in North Carolina and at the federal level for the past few years. Civitas interviews Mr. Woodard here:
Civitas: Ron, why is the new community college policy a bad idea?
Woodard: Some of the illegal aliens being considered for admission to our N.C. community colleges were brought to America as dependents by their illegal alien parents. However, anyone old enough to attend community college can now return to their host country as an adult and acquire a post-secondary education there. To continue to provide non-emergency benefits and privileges to illegal aliens will only serve to encourage more illegal immigration to America. It is also unfair to would-be legal immigrants who are currently standing in line to come to America legally and are abiding by the rule of law.
Civitas: Illegal immigrants are already being educated in the public school system. Why not let them attend college as well?
Woodard: It has been suggested that some of the illegal aliens who came to America as dependents of illegal alien parents and have spent some time in our public schools, should now be allowed to enroll in our UNC system and N.C. community colleges. Based on the Supreme Court’s Plyler v. Doe decision in 1982, dependents of illegal aliens can attend public schools in grades K-12. The Court did this only because the dependents were of young age. Many jurists have questioned the true legality of the decision. However, the 1982 ruling should not be obfuscated to suggest this benefit applies to those who are now adults and can return to their host country for an education. Applying to a university or college is a selection process, and often there are more qualified students than openings. A qualified American student should not be disenfranchised by losing his or her chance to achieve higher education due to our State permitting someone illegally in our country to attend college. One might ask the question, who will be the real victim?
Civitas: But aren’t illegal aliens who pay the out-of-state rate going to be paying their own way?
Woodard: The insinuation is that an illegal alien attending a N.C. community college will pay an out-of-state tuition rate, possibly greater than the cost of services, thereby the illegal alien will actually make money for the state. I suppose there is some merit in this statement, given the negative impact the typical illegal alien has on our governmental and societal cost, so maybe we could recoup some of our earlier loss? But a deeper look into the total capital and operational outlays of a community college would suggest the out-of-state rate doesn’t really cover “all” costs for a college education. Let’s understand the real intent of those pressing for the admission of illegal aliens in our community colleges at out-of-state rates is to ultimately give them in-state tuition rates, as former Governor Jim Hunt (D) and other Democratic leaders have attempted to do.
Civitas: We are a nation of immigrants. Isn’t denying Hispanic immigrants the opportunity to attend college just another form of xenophobia?
Woodard: Another story line we are hearing is the old and tired one about Hispanics facing opposition because they are the latest wave of immigrants. The undertone is to purport that Hispanics, as an ethnic group, are being discriminated against. But the real issue is simply legal versus illegal immigration. In the specific case of Hispanics/Latinos, more of their ethnic group is allowed into America as legal immigrants each year than any other ethnic group. Where is the discrimination?
Civitas: Governor Mike Easley (D) has essentially stated that because the federal government is not enforcing U.S. immigration law, the state of North Carolina has been left to deal with this problem on its own — and should do so by permitting illegal immigrants to attend the state’s community colleges. What do you think of this claim?
Woodard: It is implied that since illegal aliens are working in North Carolina in large numbers in violation of federal law, we must accept this and just provide benefits and privileges to them as if they were citizens. Actually our government is beginning to address the problem of illegal immigration, and we will have our laws enforced. It is against the law for an illegal alien to work in America. And why would our state provide an illegal alien the skills to take a good job away from an American citizen?
Civitas: On a related note, President Martin Lancaster of the community college system has argued that if we don’t educate illegal immigrants we will be fostering the creation of an unruly underclass. How would you respond to this charge?
Woodard: The example is often the situation currently in France with their large illegal alien population. I suppose we should heed this warning and step-up our efforts to enforce our immigration laws by controlling our borders, denying driver’s licenses and other privileges to illegals, fine employers who hire them, implement the 287g program to engage local law enforcement, and then most illegals will self-deport and our problem will go away. To pander to illegal aliens will only encourage more illegal immigration, as evidenced by observing the result of a lack of attention to this matter over the last 20 years.
Civitas: Likewise, Lancaster argued that we need to educate illegal immigrants to compete in the global economy. What do you say to this?
Woodard: Probably the weakest intellectual response by the other side is the notion that illegal aliens benefit America, as it relates to the global economy. Why would the knowledge-based economy of America want large numbers of poorly educated and low-skilled illegal aliens to come across our borders? So we would then have to build more student space in our N.C. community colleges to educate them here to take jobs away from legal resident North Carolinians?
Civitas: Finally, just how many students are we talking about? What are the real numbers?
Woodard: The administration of our N.C. community college system says there are only 340 illegal aliens enrolled out of a total of 271,000 students. Martin Lancaster, the outgoing president of the N.C. community college system said, “This is hardly the inundation of our colleges.” Well, if there are only 340 illegals in our community college system, why is he so worried about removing them for being in our country illegally? I expect the real truth is the administration doesn’t honestly know how many illegal aliens are in our community college system. And as noted earlier, the intent of some of the leaders is to in fact create conditions to make it easier for more and more illegal aliens to attend. This is not in the best interest of the citizens of North Carolina. Our state should be part of the solution, not part of the problem of illegal immigration in America.