McClintock is an expert on matters of the State budget and fiscal
discipline. He is a Senator in the California State Legislature
and ran for Governor in the 2003 recall election. His valuable
website is found at www.tommclintock.com [McClintock
Why does the state pay to send illegals to college?...
[Tom McClintock] 5/7/04
This year, nearly 7,500 qualified California residents - who
would otherwise be entering California state universities as
incoming freshmen - are likely to be turned away for lack of
funds. Meanwhile, approximately 7,500 illegal immigrants will
receive heavily subsidized university educations at a cost of
between $45 million and $65 million annually at those same universities.
Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?
Under a law signed in 2001 by Gov. Gray Davis, an illegal alien
who has graduated from a California high school after three years
of attendance - all while in violation of U.S. immigration laws
- is entitled to attend a community college or state university
at the in-state tuition rate previously reserved for legal California
The subsidy is substantial. At the University of California,
proposed student fees for a California resident will be $6,028
next year. Non-residents will pay the full cost of $22,504. The
difference is paid by California taxpayers.
Under this bizarre law, American citizens from other states
pay more than three times as much as illegal aliens to attend
California schools. An American citizen who moves to California
from Arizona will pay $12,946 to attend the California State
University. While she is waiting tables to pay her tuition costs,
her taxes will be used to subsidize illegal immigrants who are
paying only $2,776 to attend the same school.
Perhaps even more galling is the inequity this creates for legal
immigrants. Consider two students from Mexico. One has obeyed
every immigration law to come to California legally. He applied
for the appropriate visas, paid all the fees, ran the gauntlet
of applications, and met every requirement for a student visa.
The other has broken every immigration law to attend a California
high school for the last three years and is in the United States
The immigrant who respected and obeyed our nation's laws will
be charged $22,504 per year to attend the University of California,
while the illegal immigrant who disrespected and disobeyed the
law will pay only $6,028.
What rationale is offered to defend this stark and obvious injustice?
One argument is that many of these students were brought illegally
to California by their parents and had no choice in the matter.
That may be true, but they are no longer children. They are now
of legal age. And as responsible adults, they have an obligation
to obey the laws of this nation and that begins with gaining
legal entry into the United States - as millions of legal immigrants
Another argument is that many of these students are disadvantaged
and the subsidy is the only way they can afford a university
education to obtain skilled jobs. But under federal law it is
illegal to employ them in those jobs.
Finally, it is said that many of these students have been in
the United States for many years, and the law requires that they
promise to apply for legal residency in the future. But why is
it that the longer a person has broken a law the more excusable
it becomes? A student who is serious about becoming an American
citizen and assimilating into American society would first obtain
legal admission to the United States and then seek the benefits
of citizenship - not the other way around.
Here is the great imponderable: why do legislators of both parties
continue to defend this law at a time when thousands of California
citizens are about to be turned away from their own university
system? Last month, I authored Senate Bill 1503 to repeal the
in-state tuition subsidy for illegal immigrants. When heard by
the Senate Education Committee, it received only one vote - Senator
Pete Knight of Antelope Valley. Every other senator - Republican
and Democrat - voted to maintain the subsidy for illegal aliens
at the expense of California students.
Everett Dirksen once
said, "When they feel the heat, they
see the light." If Californians want rationality restored
to university tuitions and admissions, it's time to turn up the