Officials Push For Tuition Breaks For Illegal Immigrants

By Staff
April 22, 2009

The College Board, the association which administers the SAT college admission test, yesterday released a report advocating federal legislation that would grant in-state college tuition, financial aid and legal status to illegal immigrants.

The Associated Press reports that the proposed legislation, called the Dream Act, grants conditional legal status to illegal immigrants graduating from high school who entered the United States by age 15 and lived in the country at least five years. The legal status would make them eligible for in-state tuition rates and some federal financial aid programs. If they attended college or joined the military for at least two years, they would qualify for permanent legal residency and then citizenship.

The push comes as many states have moved to bar illegal immigrants from paying in-state tuition, and sometimes even enrolling in public college. Opponents of the legislation warned that opening doors to illegal immigrants could reduce job availability and college slots even further.

But College Board officials argued that all students must be educated to their full potential. "The College Board is working to remove the barriers to a college education for all students," said College Board President Gaston Caperton, who was quoted on KWTX News 10 in Texas. "Undocumented students deserve the same chance to go to college and fully participate in our society as other students. The Dream Act would provide a way for them to fulfill their dreams and legally contribute to U.S. society. We must not turn our backs on these deserving young people."

Currently Texas, California, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington are the only states that offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, pointed out that the Dream Act will unfairly allow illegal immigrants to take scholarship opportunities away from native U.S. residents.

"If you ask any illegal alien why they came to America, the answer invariably is, 'Well, I wanted to do better for my family,'" Mehlman told the Los Angeles Times, "and this gives them precisely what they broke the law to achieve."

The Associated Press quoted Bob Dane, another spokesman from FAIR, who added that since many illegal immigrants earn lower wages, they will receive a significant portion of need-based financial aid.

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