They're at it again.
The open borders brigade has a new cause celebre in their ongoing campaign; one which uses false argument and heartstring appeals in a dual attempt to eliminate immigration restrictions and bolster Democrat voter rolls by providing illegal immigrants more benefits at taxpayer expense.
At issue is Senate Bill 012-15, "Concerning Creating an Optional Category of Tuition at Institutions of Higher Education," a title too clever by half. The bill, and its House counterpart, propose a "middle level" of tuition at state universities for illegal aliens who have been in Colorado long enough to attend three years of secondary school here. At present, the suggested rate is about $2,000 more per year than in-state tuition and $19,000 less than tuition paid by a legal resident of, say, Kansas.
The first argument in favor of this state subsidy of scofflaw behavior is either an indication that those making it are utterly ignorant of American history, or that they understand it but hope you do not. Simply stated, it is that "we are a nation of immigrants," and that those who would receive reduced tuition are no different than those who came before them. This ignores the fact that for Europeans, there were no real restrictions on immigration into the US until 1921; for residents of Latin and Central America, immigration was unrestricted until the Great Depression. "Illegal immigration" didn't exist before that time because for most, there were no laws to break.
The second argument is simply an insult to the intelligence of every Colorado voter. We must subsidize these students, we are told, because they are an "investment in the future." They represent the educated workforce of tomorrow, which will vault our economy into the stratosphere. Except ...
They are legally barred from working here. So we are either subsidizing the education of a foreign workforce, or this is merely the first step in the legalization bootstrap tango: First, we spend oodles of public money educating illegals, then, well ..."How can we waste all those resources by keeping these deserving graduates from gainful employment?"
This argument is actually previewed in SB 012-15, Section 3-a, in which a "student who does not have documentation of lawful immigration or nationality status" may simply promise to apply for legal status "as soon as he or she is eligible to do so." Which may be when pigs fly, or when a majority of Americans get soft-headed enough to fall for argument number two.
Then there's the clincher, usually delivered in tear-jerker terms. A student is presented; he was brought to the US as an infant and has lived here all his life. He studied hard, did well in school and now ... sniffle ... he can't move forward and get his slice of the American dream. We need to do this for him - and for us.
No. What we need to do is retain a sense of perspective. What happened to the person in question is sad, without doubt. But the sole responsibility for the situation lies with the parents who chose to violate the law, dragging the child along. If Coloradans decide to subsidize this behavior, giving a slap in the face to all our immigrants who obeyed the law, followed the rules and waited their turn, we need to remember: What is rewarded, increases.
Giving amnesty, either directly or through such salami tactics as are obvious in SB 012-15, is a non-starter. In repeated public opinion polls, large majorities have opposed this. But there are alternatives. What about offering legal permanent residence?
Those who have a genuine interest in improving the lot of illegal alien children who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of being at home neither here nor there might embrace this option as humane and practical. Provided, of course, that those availing themselves of it would be barred from seeking citizenship - call it the price of stepping out of the shadows.
LPR status would allow recipients to work, to enjoy the protections of our laws and to "make their contributions" openly and without concern for deportation. But a permanent resident cannot legally vote, so the offer would quickly clarify whether those advocating special treatment for illegal immigrants really want rewarding jobs and quiet lives for their clients, or whether their agenda revolves around cynical political calculations of favors for votes.
So perhaps it's time to put this controversy to bed, once and for all. Providing blanket LPR status to illegal alien students would require action by the Federal Government, but a concerted effort in this direction might accomplish much. It would at least clear the air, making it obvious what those involved are trying to gain.
If it's not already.
Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.