I read an article by J.B. Wogan on governing.com recently (http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-advancing-the-debate-why-give-illegal-immigrants-in-state-tuition-.html) about the current proposal in front of Oregon’s congress regarding extending in-state college tuition to Oregon high school graduates, whether they can prove citizenship or not. The debate in Oregon largely reflects the national debate on education reform. Supporters claim it is not fair to punish the children of immigrants because their parents came here illegally, and opponents fear that offering in-state tuition to non-citizens would create increased competition and tuition for the rest of the state’s residents.
Currently in Oregon, children of all backgrounds are provided with a primary and secondary education, completely free. The children of an estimated 170,000 illegal immigrants are currently being educated in the public school system in Oregon, which costs tax payers approximately $1 billion each year. Jessica Ritter with the Oregonian says, “It makes little sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars on primary and secondary education, only to erect a barrier to a college education that could improve job prospects, purchasing power and, incidentally, payroll and income tax revenue.” Although many in Oregon seem to agree with Ritter, and the current proposal in front of congress has the support of the governor, Oregon has seen and voted against similar legislation twice in the past. This leaves the fates of many potential college graduates up in the air as legislative discussions begin this week.
It is my opinion that all children should have a fair shot at education regardless of the immigration status of their parents, as is currently the law in Oregon. However, if we are willing to pay $1 billion in taxes each year for this to be possible, why do we stop at college? Why would we put all that money forth to educate these children and not allow them to continue their education and become legal, educated, and productive members of our state’s society and economy? As an Oregon resident paying in-state tuition at a university of 30,000 students, I am not intimidated at the notion of anyone else being offered the same benefits as I was for growing up in this state. I can, however, understand the misgivings many others may have on the topic.
- According to the article, offering in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants would only result in about 38 students taking advantage of the program starting in 2013. Does this support or disprove the notion that offering in-state tuition to undocumented students would create higher competition and tuition for legal citizens?
- Do you agree with Jessica Ritter’s assessment? Why or why not?
- Many of you may be paying out-of-state tuition to attend college right now. Do you feel it is fair for the children of undocumented immigrants to get in-state tuition if they grew up here?