Friday, February 03, 2006

Should Illegal Aliens Be Required to Pay Non-Resident Tuition?

This story from yesterday, in Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News, refers to Utah's HB7, which would repeal another Utah law, passed just last year, that allows students who have attended a Utah high school for three years and graduated from high school here to pay in-state tuition. HB7's aim seems to be to ensure that children of illegal aliens attending Utah's public universities must pay non-resident tuition, no matter how long they have lived in Utah.

I am fourth-generation Utahn who relocated to California years ago, but I am paying non-resident tuition for my son to attend the University of Utah, so I have a somewhat unusual perspective on HB7. From the standpoint of pure self-interest, I suppose I should be supportive of the bill, but I am not. HB7 seems like an empty gesture that will be politically popular but will make no real difference except in the lives of a mere 169 students who will now have to pay non-resident tuition like my son.

Tuition accounts for a very tiny portion of the higher education budget, so the debate appears to be about principle, not finances. Some appear to believe strongly that honoring principle is more important than the impact HB7 would have on those 169 students and their families. Many of those students were brought here by their parents and now really have no country-- they're too Americanized to live in Latin America (they probably speak very poor Spanish and can hardly read or write it at all) and they're not citizens here.

This story in today's Deseret News makes it clear that HB7 is headed for passage. Read the article and decide whether you at least have misgivings about the bill.

The key questions here seem to be: Is upholding principle and getting just a few additional tuition dollars worth all the bitterness that that will result from that effort? Should those 169 kids be the ones to pay for principle? Some may call me a bleeding heart liberal (which would be very amusing to regular readers of this blog), but I am not convinced that enacting HB7 is the right thing to do. In fact, it seems downright heartless.

Utahns are generous, fair-minded people. I have a hunch the majority of them agree with me.


Anonymous ET said...

I agree that many Utahns would prefer to make higher education more accessable and affordable for those who have lived here and participated in our schools. It does not make sense to penalize kids who have attended our Utah schools and studied sufficiently to warrant acceptance into our Universities by forcing them to act like an outsider in their own community simply because of a lack of residency.

The 'principle' of the bill is exclusionary and prejudicial and should not be tolerated.  

Posted by ET

Friday, February 03, 2006 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous DL said...

I see the reference to Utahn -I also have seen Utahian -does anyone know the correct reference?

Very good post I'm please to see the humanitarian impulses you have, However - heartless? that's the problem -If decent people had to decide on each individual who goes and who stays in our immigration policy the tower of babble would be lost in a higher tower of immigrant bodies - that's why decisions need to be objectivly policy based upon the best we can offer - A million people can't milk the same cow - where do exceptions start and stop? Look at those poor boat people from Haiti we keep saying no to.

Posted by DL

Friday, February 03, 2006 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger Bonjo said...

Greetings, my friend. Bleeding heart liberal you are not.

Having also attended Utah universities (USU, UVSC and UofU) at the non-resident tuition rate, this story catches my interest as well.

The one-sided approach to the discussion in the House is unsettling, at least as portrayed in the article. I'm not sure what the customary protocol is in that chamber, but if this was an exception that is disturbing.

I also feel that someone who meets the requirements of the existing law has been around long enough to be fairly considered eligible for in-state rates, especially youth who will most likely remain in the state upon graduation from college.

On the other hand, Utah has specific requirements for someone like me to be granted in-state tuition. Certain time requirements, residency requirements, financial independence requirements, and most of all, tax requirements. Before I was granted in-state tuition, I had to provide documentation that I had paid Utah income taxes on my earnings for the previous 12 months.

That also seems fair since state income taxes subsidize the institutions of higher education. If a worker is undocumented, I question whether that person has (or that person's parents have) been paying income taxes on his/her earnings. If I had lived in the state for a year without earning income, I wouldn't have received the in-state rates (unless I happened to be independently wealthy. I wasn't, as I assume is the case for these 169 students).

An interesting discussion, to say the least.

Friday, February 03, 2006 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous nash said...

There are a lot of people including me that are fed up with the government's inaction on immigration issues for the past two decades and don't want illegal aliens to have ANY access to non-emergency services, including education. I'm tired of people who say they are in favor of stronger immigration "reforms" while winking and nodding at blatant violations of immigration law. 

Posted by nash

Friday, February 03, 2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger G.Ellen said...

Interesting how I opened my blog with this same discussion. I would never have thought that I was on the same side as the liberals - If I were actually affiliated with anything, it would most likely be Republican...but I'm Independent in the blood.

Anyway, my point is that these students need to find a way to BECOME part of society. Letting them attend college as live-in-state students doesn't help the fact that they have no documentation...but then I'm getting all riled up again. (grin)

Anyway, coming from a family of lawyers...I have to say it was a pleasure to read your blog. Have a good one. I miss California once in a while...especially the ocean.  

Posted by Spazmom

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:57:00 AM  

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