DREAM Act should become a reality for kids
Arizona Daily Star
Our view: Illegal-immigrant students should not pay for parents' transgressions
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/202264
Congress may soon have the opportunity to stop the systematic punishment of illegal-immigrant children for the sins of their parents.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is planning to reintroduce the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act as an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill that is being debated in Congress this week.
The DREAM Act, which was part of the comprehensive immigration-reform bill that failed this summer, would give the children of illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship if they attend college for at least two years or serve honorably in the military for at least two years.
The measure would be good for the United States, as it would boost student ranks in states like Arizona, where young illegal immigrants who want to attend college often cannot afford to because of state laws. The act would also encourage young illegal immigrants to pursue higher education or careers in the military.
The measure would be especially significant in Arizona because state voters last year approved Proposition 300, which requires illegal-immigrant students to pay out-of-state tuition rather than the more affordable in-state rate.
University tuition for students classified as in-state residents costs roughly $5,000 a year, while out-of-state tuition is more than three times higher at about $16,000 per year.
As we have stated on these pages previously, Proposition 300 created a mean-spirited law that unfairly punishes young adults who entered the country illegally but involuntarily.
The United States is a nation of laws, but children should not be punished for the actions of their parents.
Many illegal-immigrant students who are of college age came to this country as toddlers or grade-schoolers. The United States is the only country they know. For them, Mexico, to give one example, would be the foreign country, even though they might be Mexican citizens.
Proposition 300 viciously makes it harder for these students to become well-educated, taxpaying adults.
Some individuals and groups have stepped up to help illegal-immigrant students pursue college degrees.
Arizona State University President Michael Crow, for one, has earmarked funds from private donors to help about 200 illegal-immigrant students meet the higher tuition costs, the Arizona Republic reported.
However, state Treasurer Dean Martin, who as a legislator was the main proponent of Proposition 300, is asking for the Board of Regents to investigate whether Crow is following state law in assisting the students.
University of Arizona spokesman Johnny Cruz said six students affected by Proposition 300 are receiving more aid so that they can remain in school. UA President Robert Shelton said the money is coming from private donations.
Meanwhile, Tucson businessman Paul Lindsey has donated $50,000 to establish a scholarship fund that will help illegal-immigrant students attend Pima Community College.
A full, 15-credit-hour course load at Pima College costs about $700 for in-state students and about $3,500 for out-of-state students.
We applaud the efforts to help illegal-immigrant students who might otherwise not be able to earn college degrees and we are hopeful those private efforts expand.
However, Proposition 300 could be effectively negated if the DREAM Act is approved by Congress. We encourage Arizona's senators and representatives to support Sen. Durbin's amendment.
The United Negro College Fund has a slogan, "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste." That slogan should apply to young people of all races.