“College is becoming a pipe dream for too many children, not because they aren’t talented or willing to work hard, but because they can’t afford it.”
That’s a true statement, as tuition costs have far outpaced inflation. So the elected official who said this must have a clue, right? Not a chance.
In an act that simply defies comprehension, State Representative Tony Payton of Philadelphia has just unveiled a bill that “would allow undocumented immigrant students to pay in-state tuition at any Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education school, community college or state-related university.” (This is similar to the proposed federal law known as the DREAM Act).
Hey Tony, nice to stick it to all the law-abiding Pennsylvania residents who want to attend college. And who says good constituent service is hard to find?
Why the handout to those who least deserve it? Because, as Tony explains, “undocumented students are not eligible for federal financial aid, (so) college is often extremely expensive and simply out of reach for many of these students.”
Oh, the tragedy.
Of course, there is something that apparently hasn’t occurred to Tony as to why federal financial aid — political codespeak for American taxpayer dollars — is not available to these folks. They’re ILLEGAL. As in, they have broken the law to get here and are breaking the law being here. Every single thing they do hurts American citizens and throws our nation deeper into the red.
Yet not only are we supposed to feel guilty, but if Tony has his way, we should compensate them for their plight by sacrificing our children — so that theirs can have an education courtesy of the taxpayers.
Let’s set the record straight with facts — not rhetoric. Illegal immigrants depress wages and take American jobs (and please, spare us the tired argument that “they only take the jobs Americans don’t want” — completely false). They cost taxpayers hundreds of billions (thousands directly out of each American family’s pocket) through healthcare costs, education expenditures (in Pennsylvania, every illegal in our public schools costs $15,000 per year, and that’s not including the extra money needed for additional teachers and classrooms), prison expenses, and yes, government services.
In the case of higher education, as addressed in Payton’s bill, it’s important to remember that just because we are talking about state universities, space is not unlimited. So one of two things is true: with illegals in attendance, the college will either 1) close its doors to new applicants after a given class is filled, thereby denying the RIGHT of a legitimate Pennsylvania resident to attend that school, or 2) once a classroom hits capacity, the need to hire additional professors and expand school facilities is triggered — both expensive propositions borne by the forgotten taxpayer.
The only saving grace is that, with Republicans in control of Harrisburg, Payton’s bill should have no shot at passage. But that’s not the point. The real question is how such a bill could even be considered in the first place, and how 11 other states already passed similar legislation.
And quite frankly, this author doesn’t know what’s worse: the fact that a bill was introduced that empowers people to break the law, or the almost complete silence of Payton’s colleagues and the media on such a feat.
When you cut right down to it, Tony Payton’s bill advocates the commission of a crime, and there isn’t any way to spin that to the contrary. (Federal law explicitly states that aiding an illegal immigrant is a crime.) Among other things, it would aid and abet known lawbreakers. Period. The fact that the feds do this on a regular basis, along with states (such as issuing driver’s licenses to known illegals) and municipalities just rubs salt in the wound. The government should not be above the law.
But if this debate is to advance, it is important to focus on the core issue. And that is not whether a wall should be built (or if it is a racist barrier), or whether amnesty is a godsend (or a sell-out deal to the pro-illegal immigration forces).
While these are important side discussions, the only relevant point is that when individuals attempt to circumvent a law because they don’t like it, the entire American system of justice — the very rule of law that keeps us civilized — breaks down. Once elected officials start picking and choosing what laws they will follow (setting the example for their followers to do the same), we all take a hit.
There’s no getting around the fact that Payton’s legislation overtly mocks the law. Under his bill, eligible students would have to attend a public or nonpublic secondary school in Pennsylvania for at least three years (an admission that we the people have already forked over at least $50,000 in education costs), pay state income taxes for at least three years prior to enrollment in college (how can you pay income taxes if you are here illegally, and how can the state abdicate its responsibility to apprehends these known lawbreakers), and provide an affidavit to the institution of higher education that the student will file an application to a become a permanent resident (giving a sworn legal document to a state entity that attests that one is here illegally, without fear of repercussion, is just insane).
Since the illegal immigration debate lends itself to easily getting off track, here’s the bottom line: For those who believe illegals should have rights, change the law to accommodate them — don’t break it. Lobby for amnesty and fight to change the definition of “illegal immigrant,” but do not cavalierly pick and choose what laws you want to follow because you happen to disagree with some.
That’s what they do in places like Iraq. It is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind.
On behalf of Rep. Payton’s real constituents, shame on you, Tony.
Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com. Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.” Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com.