January 27, 2010
Many Texans aren't aware of it, but public colleges and universities in Texas are required by law to treat illegal aliens better than American citizens who live in other states
Back in 2001 the legislature passed a law letting illegal aliens pay the same tuition as legal Texas residents pay, as long as they've been in the country for at least three years, and promise to apply for permanent residency. Meanwhile, a young man or woman who is an American citizen, but grew up a few miles across the Oklahoma or Louisiana state line, has to pay thousands of dollars more than the illegal alien to attend the same Texas university.
There are certainly good reasons to charge out of state residents higher tuition at public universities than Texans pay. State funded colleges and universities are set up primarily to educate Texans. In-state tuition rates are subsidized by Texas taxpayers, and so if out of state students want to attend one of our schools they're more than welcome to, but they'll have to pay extra for the privilege and don't get the Texas taxpayer subsidy. This is standard operating procedure in almost all states, and has been going on for decades. There's nothing unfair about it.
It becomes extremely unfair, however, when people who are in the country illegally are given in-state tuition, which is subsidized by the taxpayers of Texas, while American citizens from other states have to pay thousands of dollars more per semester. We are now becoming second class citizens in our own country. American citizens from out of state are treated worse than people who shouldn't even be here in the first place, people who are breaking the law every day they remain in America.
Liberals and RINOs like to claim that giving illegal aliens in-state tuition at taxpayer expense is a good "investment." According to this theory, because the illegal must promise to seek permanent residency, it encourages them to assimilate and become legal citizens, and in turn they become role models for other illegals to emulate. They also say that it's far better for them to go to college and get employment training so they can become productive members of the economy, which justifies the massive tax subsidies they receive.
They're wrong on all counts. Illegal aliens shouldn't be "assimilating" in the first place. They should be returning to their country of citizenship, not freeloading here. As far as the "role model" argument, all we do when we give illegal aliens tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayer subsidies for college is to encourage even more illegal immigration. That's Economics 101—what you subsidize, you get more of. Compounding this is the fact that legal immigrants who respect our nation's laws don't qualify for the lower tuition. We're rewarding illegal immigrants and punishing the ones who follow the rules. Their third argument is also faulty. If we need more productive workers in the Texas economy, we could simply quit charging higher tuition for out of state Americans.
It's an outrage that this law was ever passed, as it's blatantly unconstitutional. Finally, a patriotic organization is stepping up to the plate to do something about this injustice. The Immigration Reform Coalition of Texas (IRCOT) has filed a lawsuit to put a stop to this practice. In-state rates for illegal immigrants attacked By Susan Carroll, Houston Chronicle, December 15, 2009,
IRCOT spokeswoman Rebecca Forrest spoke to the Lone Star Report about the lawsuit:
"We believe Texas is in clear violation of federal law by giving cash grants to illegal aliens. Texas is currently treating illegal aliens better than it treats legal residents and American citizens, and we obviously want our leaders in Texas to change this situation...we want people to come legally, obey our laws, speak our language and assimilate."[PDF]
IRCOT is a fine organization working hard to reverse the invasion of illegal aliens, and deserves your support. Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Steven Wayne Smith is also a party to the lawsuit, which speaks well of the solid legal argument the suit is based on. Several states have passed similar laws, but there's a growing groundswell of opposition from outraged Americans fed up with their government coddling illegal aliens. Oklahoma recently rescinded its law, and even in liberal California, the state appeals court ruled their version unconstitutional (although it's been appealed to the state Supreme Court).
Texas' in-state tuition law is not only unconstitutional; it's also extremely expensive. No government office tracks the figures, but The Lone Star Foundation estimated that in-state tuition for illegals cost Texas taxpayers approximately $18 million in 2003 and nearly $35 million in 2005, nearly doubling in just two years! If that rate of growth continues, it won't be long before its costing Texas over $100 million per year. As long as our government refuses to get serious about stopping illegal immigration, that figure is going to keep going higher every year.
We've got high hopes that the IRCOT lawsuit will be successful, and that the expensive, unjust practice of granting illegal in-state tuition benefits will be officially declared unconstitutional. It's a travesty that IRCOT has to even take this to court, because our legislature could rescind the law at any time. There's no excuse for it ever being passed in the first place, but in today's economy, it's even more indefensible. We can't afford to be giving tens of millions of dollars every year to illegal aliens who shouldn't even be here in the first place, while legal immigrants and American citizens have to pay their own way to attend Texas universities.
We should all support IRCOT and their efforts to nullify this unjust and wasteful law, but we shouldn't stop there. Contact your legislators today and demand that they repeal the in-state tuition law. They have the authority to do so, and there are no good reasons why they shouldn't. When it comes to illegal immigration, it's often the federal courts that impose these liberal policies, and there's little we can do about it. That's not the case this time. It's our own elected officials in Texas who passed this law, and it's time we demanded they repeal it.
Peter Morrison (email him) is a businessman living in Lumberton, Texas with his wife and four children. He currently serves on the Lumberton ISD School Board and as treasurer of the Hardin County Republican Party. He says "I believe deeply in the principles of limited constitutional government, the sanctity of life and that our state and nation should be run under Thomas Jefferson's principle of 'Equal Rights for All, Special Privileges for None.'" This article is from his free newsletter, which features commentary about current events of interest to Texans—sign up here.