The Fight For Justice In Kansas: The Fat Lady Has Not Sung
July 16, 2005, 05:00 AM
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I'm still trying to make sense of the news out of Kansas.

Last week U.S District Judge Richard Rogers ruled that out of state U.S. citizen students at various Kansas universities had "no right of action" in their efforts to receive treatment equal to that of illegal alien students. [Day et al, vs Sebelius, et al]

Non-resident students sued Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius to demand that they be offered the same discounted tuition fees made available to illegal aliens. Short of that, the plaintiffs wanted Kansas H.B. 2145 overturned. This is the new law in Kansas, passed last year, which made illegal immigrants equal to residents in terms of access to in-state tuition. 

Rogers claimed that although the out of state students paid significantly higher fees (in-state is about one-third the amount of out-of-state), they suffered no damage.

(Read the VDARE.COM blog for a professional analysis by a Washington, D.C.attorney.)

As I mull the Kansas case over, I am struggling with three emotions:

  • Great pity for the residents of Kansas. A runaway illegal alien freight train is barreling their way. Kansas, once synonymous with tall corn and magnificent sunflowers, is poised to become the next Iowa or North Carolina. Years ago, those two states claimed a high quality of life. But now they are now faltering under the burden of illegal aliens and those, like Governor Sebelius, who do their bidding.

  • Second, Bewilderment about the 21st Century version of the Republican Party. In Kansas, a bedrock conservative state, the G.O.P. controls both the Kansas House and Senate. Yet H.B. 2145 passed resoundingly 81-43 and 25-15 respectively.  What are they trying to conserve?  Do not fail to notice, the Kansas GOP pols have it their power still to reverse this atrocity -  if they had the courage

  • Third, I'm embarrassed at my own naiveté. A year ago, writing about the Kansas lawsuit, I predicted a happy ending. All the facts, especially laws prohibiting post secondary education benefits to aliens, are on our side. But that's the way it goes in immigration reform. We're on the right side of all the arguments. Then we go head to head with the likes of Governor Sebelius (e-mail governor@state.ks.us)  and Judge Rogers: blind and dogmatic partisans of non-countrymen.  

Take pity on poor Kansas.

By 2000, the illegal alien population in Kansas had increased 262 percent from its 1990 levels to 47,000.

As always, schools take it on the chin. The K-12 enrollment increased 14 percent during that decade.

And consider this ominous item from the February 2004 "Summary of the State Board of Education Meeting"

"Another conclusion of the study was that students enrolling in accredited schools are becoming more diverse and more at-risk. The percentage of students on free and reduced price lunches in public schools increased from 28 percent in 1993-94 to 37 percent in 2003-04, while the percent of minority students increased from 17 percent to 25 percent during the same time period."

Now, on top of all this,  unmerited and illegal university tuition breaks. This make Kansas—already bearing the brunt of an unprecedented flow of aliens—all the more appealing to lawbreakers. With these incentives, why not go to Kansas?

While writing my column last year, I could not imagine it would be possible for anyone, as Judge Rogers has done, to rule that out-of-state students are not damaged and have "no right of action" by Kansas' offer of lower tuition to illegal aliens.

But Bob Manzel, a Nebraska elementary school teacher whose daughter Kayla attends Kansas University, understands the truth is quite different.

In a long telephone conversation with Manzel, he told me that:

"My wife, Karla, and I have been saving for our three daughters' education for about twenty years! Our oldest daughter, Kayla, will begin her fourth year at Kansas University, in Lawrence, Kansas, this fall.  She wanted to go there because of their excellent School of Journalism.

We have been aboard the suit against Governor Sebelius ever since. We completed affidavits and had to get together three years of tax statements, KU tuition costs (in-state vs. out-of-state for each year,) and educational loans taken out.  Besides Kayla's Student Loan each semester, my wife and I have borrowed over $50,000 through what are called:  P.L.U.S.  (Parents' Loans for Undergraduate Students.)

Once again, I want to remind you that twenty years ago my wife and I began the long process of ensuring that our children would have access to a college education.  We wanted to give them the best possible start, in their adult lives, where they can be free to pursue their dreams." 

Concluded Manzel:

"Karla is a registered nurse. I am a school- teacher. We have worked hard and saved. Is it fair that illegal aliens can get something for next to nothing when we have sacrificed for years?"

In another interview, recent Kansas University graduate Chris Heath resented Rogers' decision, too. Like Manzel, Heath feels that H.B. 2145 has financially damaged him.

Said Heath:

"Rogers noted that we didn't suffer any personal harm from the decision to implement the law …But when I pay over 200% of my yearly income to tuition, while an ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT (note the word ILLEGAL) gets to pay in-state tuition, I think it's a slap in the face to all the people who inhabit this country by the rules! I can understand if someone says one person's hardships are more deserving than mine. Some students qualify for welfare, some for financial aid, scholarships, and a whole host of things that I don't qualify for because of circumstances. I can accept that.

"What I can't accept is one state deviating from what federal law clearly spells out in order to benefit a people who are here ILLEGALLY. Let's not forget that. Illegal, meaning that they haven't complied with proper laws to be here.  So while I think the judge had a real easy opportunity to right a clear wrong, he took the easy way out by saying it's not for him to deal with."

However, the fight is not yet over.

Federation for American Immigration Reform lawyer Michael M. Hethmon will join Kobach in appealing Rogers' decision at the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver.

When I spoke to him, Hethmon cited "serious errors in the legal reasoning" in Rogers' decision as ample cause for an appeal.

Kobach is also optimistic.

In an interview with CNN's Kitty Pilgrim, Kobach said:

"I think we'll have a very good chance there. The judge in this …case…glossed over some really important precedents that make clear that our plaintiffs do have standing, they have suffered a sufficient injury.

"I think anyone can understand the injury here, when a U.S. citizen is denied the opportunity to get something that an illegal alien can get. There's a fundamental equal protection problem, as well as a federal statutory problem."

Now all of us…Manzel, Heath, Hethmon, Kobach, Jeff Beck who heads the Kansas Alliance for Immigration Reform and VDARE readers…do what are so skilled at.

We soldier on.

With the spirit of the law clearly on our side, I remain as optimistic about the appeal of H.B.2145 as I was one year ago.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.