The New & Observer editorial page lauds the logic and fairness of the state community colleges new policy to admit illegal immigrants. I beg to differ.
Let’s talk fairness. Is it fair to taxpayers? No matter how you slice it charging illegal immigrants relatively high out-of-state tuition ($7,700) does NOT eliminate public subsidies. Tuition comprises only 13 percent of all operational funding (See: A Matter of Facts, 2008 page, 17) . How is there not a subsidy? Furthermore, students contribute nothing toward capital and maintenance costs. I wonder if the law-abiding immigrant who spent thousands on immigration costs and has had to wait years for citizenship feels the policy is fair, or the unemployed construction worker whose wages have stagnated with the influx of illegal immigrants?
Advocates of opening our community colleges to illegals are quick to point out that since there are only 112 illegals in the system, the associated costs will be relatively low. Don’t believe them. The current system has major problems. First, few schools verify residency status. Second, the current system relies on self reporting. Considering the seriousness of the consequences, would anyone knowingly admit to being an illegal immigrant? A recent study found 70 percent of two-year colleges knowingly admit illegal immigrants to academic programs. Only 20 percent of two-year colleges said they verify the immigration status of students. There is good reason not to trust the 112 number.
The N & O praises the logic of the board’s policy for giving more students the chance to better themselves. What is logical about allowing illegal immigrants to enroll in community colleges but then charging tuition that assures relatively few illegal immigrants will be able to take advantage of the courses being offered? What is logical about investing public dollars to educate individuals who are barred from working legally in this country. The policy is at war with itself.
The board’s policy may make members feel better but helps no one. Logical? Fairminded? Please, if someone wants to let me know, I’m listening.