Monday, January 29, 2007

When Illegals Go To College

My state representative, Glenn Donnelson (R-North Ogden) was featured in Sunday’s Standard Examiner. Glenn is in his fourth term in the state legislature and I’ve known him personally for many years. I can say this about Glenn: he’s honest, he’s hard working, he’s conservative, and he’s very strong-minded.

I’ve always fancied myself to be a conservative. But Glenn makes me look rather liberal in some ways. I respect Glenn, but we don’t see eye to eye on some issues. I remember driving behind Glenn’s old orange pickup truck one day. On the back bumper was a sticker proclaiming, “God, Guns, and Guts made and keep America great!”

Glenn has a great love for and a devotion to the U.S. Constitution. I understand that Glenn’s sticker was expressing his support for his understanding of First Amendment and Second Amendment rights. But the religionist in me (note that Glenn and I attended the same congregation for years) kind of thought that God might find this little glib phrase coupling Him with guns to be somewhat offensive. I realize that many have no problem with this kind of coupling.

I think one thing that kind of sticks in my craw is Glenn’s support of extremist nutcake Bo Gritz in the 1992 presidential campaign. Glenn dismisses criticism of his support by saying that he couldn’t support anyone else that was running. But Glenn’s support was not a passive thing. It was very enthusiastic. While Colonel Gritz has some admirable qualities, the man is unstable and is arguably certifiable. I haven’t often found a major party national candidate whom I felt tremendously enthusiastic about, but just about any of them in 1992 would probably have been a better choice than Gritz.

The reason Glenn is in the news right now is his sponsorship of HB224, which would repeal the law that permits illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates (see Utah Politicopia discussion). Some openly label Donnelson as racist for simply raising the point. Some say that since illegals are here, we have a responsibility to help them get the best education and jobs that they can get.

For example, Politicopia commentator Steve Petersen writes, “While it does cost money to educate illegal immigrants, I wonder how much more an uneducated and unskilled resident would cost the state. The more education and skills anyone in Utah has, the less likely that they will rely upon the government for assistance for day-to-day living.”

Donnelson says that the whole concept of allowing illegals to pay in-state tuition is disingenuous. Not only does it send the wrong message that breaking the law to enter the country is OK, but it gives false hope because these people can’t work here legally. “Employers who hire anyone who is here illegally can be fined thousands of dollars under federal law.” A counter argument is noted by Utah Politicopia commentator jseelig, who writes that illegals applying to pay in-state tuition rates are required to show that they have applied for legal status.

Glenn says he’d like to see federal law changed so that it was easier for people to come to and work in this country legally. But he says, the state should not “be offering in-state tuition or driving-privilege cards to those who are here without proper documentation.” He sees it as a simple matter of right and wrong.

A number of people agree. Politicopia commentator RL writes, “I don't want my hard earned tax dollars going to pay for any illegal's education, healthcare, subsidised (sic) housing, etc. I will support anyone here legally. It is becoming too much of a strain on our country's infrastructure.”

Some of our national laws stem from attitudes and legislation in the various states; our laboratories of democracy. If states send the message that they are fed up with illegal immigration, we’re more likely to see federal legislation to fix it. On the other hand, if states send the message that they will accommodate illegal immigration, the federal level will have little incentive to do more than give the issue lip service.

I don’t know how HB224 will fare. But one thing is for sure; it has a tenacious sponsor that is convinced he’s doing the right thing.

1 comment:

Reach Upward said...

Update: the bill appears to be dead for this year. See Standard Examiner article. Some highly respected people (including an LDS apostle, a Catholic leader, and a university president) signed a letter opposing the legislation. The debate should continue, but another vote on the matter will probably have to wait until next year.