Educating the Children of Immigrants in Oregon: Should we Share In-state tuition?(by Guest Blogger Katie O’Reilly)

American FlagI read an article by J.B. Wogan on recently ( 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?

3 thoughts on “Educating the Children of Immigrants in Oregon: Should we Share In-state tuition?(by Guest Blogger Katie O’Reilly)

  1. Personally, I was shocked when I found out that undocumented children can attend public schools with no proof of citizenship! No one thinks to ask these questions or can even ask them? That is, like the lady said, 1 billion dollars from people like us who have to pay taxes to help these children go through school without having their parents pay taxes. I also believe that allowing illegal immigrants to go to college while paying in-state tuition is not acceptable. There should be a specific price point that undocumented students pay that are willing to go through the process of becoming a US citizen. They don’t even require something in writing from the undocumented student saying that they would become a legal citizen.

    I don’t think that children should pay the price for their parents not being legal citizens, or whatever, but they should make the effort to help their children become legal so they don’t have to live their entire life hiding and under the radar.

    • Nicole:
      Thanks for continuing the conversation here. A few points to consider…

      Many, many undocumented workers do pay taxes and, thus, contribute to public education, roads, public safety, etc.

      Undocumented parents have no options for creating a pathway to citizenship for their children without policies like DACA or the DREAM Act.

      The relationship between Latin America and the U.S. is complicated. Our economy impacts that of Latin America and in many ways depends on the work of undocumented people. We virtually invite undocumented labor but do not offer much in return. Paths to citizenship are offered to highly educated people who have specialization in math and science fields. They are not so readily offered to others.

      A question I have for you…if you do not feel that the children of undocumented parents should receive an education when they are here, how do you feel this will impact our communities? If the reality is that we will have students in this country who are undocumented, do the benefits of providing a public education outweigh the negatives in your mind?

  2. Katie
    Of the 170,000 already being educated, do you know how much of them are seniors and about to graduate? I really don’t have a problem with illegal immigrants who have already been receiving an education. I just stress that of these 170,000, they should have a way to get citizenship apart from higher education or military. Granted, there are some of them who want to pursue a higher education (38 taking advantage in 2013). But if citizenship is only granted by going to college or joining the military, what happens to the illegals who don’t want to do either? Wouldn’t that mean they would continue to be illegal? Wouldn’t then allowing citizenship regardless of after high school intent, allow them to get a job legally, get a bank account, and other things we citizens take for granted? The problem I have is that if illegal immigrants are allowed in state tuition with only showing intent (getting documentation toward citizenship),then non residents should show intent of being residents of Oregon to get in state tuition also. Sure illegals may have been living in Oregon for their whole lives, but they have not been U.S. citizens, and want to pay in state tuition. But for the non Oregon resident that is a U.S. citizen and plans to be an Oregon resident, what’s the difference?

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