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Finances & Money

Unfair?: US Senate To Consider DREAM Act

Shawn, a subscriber and frequent commenter here at Clever Dude, as well as a personal friend of the Clever Dude and Dudette will posting occasional guest articles. You can read his introduction here.

By Shawn

I had hoped that my first guest post on this site would less controversial, but I felt I needed to start spreading the word about this issue. Many thanks to the Clever Dude for allowing me this forum for this purpose.

Tomorrow, 9/21, the US Senate is set to vote on H.R. 1585, the Defense Department authorization bill for fiscal year 2008. Buried in this defense appropriations bill is amendment SA 2919 — The Dream Act. Basically, this act provides the ability for children of illegal immigrants to attend public universities at in-state tuition rates. While this seems like a noble idea, this act extends to illegal immigrants a benefit not available to US Citizens and non-citizens here legally. Investor’s Business Daily has a good article about the act.

I’ve begun to email all US Senators about the issue. Here is a link to the list of US Senators (it contains links to their contact forums).

Here is the text of the email I’m sending to the senators:

I’ve recently learned that the Senate is considering the passage of the DREAM act which will give illegal immigrants the ability to attend public universities at at in-state tuition rates.

This act create a system where the illegal immigrants are now getting a benefit not extended to legal US citizens and non-citizens who have come here legally.

I believe if you are intent on passing this, then you should abolish the whole notion of in-state versus out-of-state tuition, thus making it fair for ALL (most importantly, the US Citizens who pay taxes to fund the universities).

If this passes, I would expect and encourage any US citizen subjected to out-of-state tuition to organize a class-action lawsuit to reclaim the difference between the out-of-state rates they’ve paid and the in-state rates offered to illegals.

Please do the right thing and either make this apply to everyone or kill the bill. It is your duty as a US Senator to protect the interests of US Citizens — not of people who blatantly break the laws of a sovereign nation.

I’d like to hear what the Clever Dude audience thinks of the legislation. Although my stance is fairly obvious, email your Senator and let them know YOUR stance, either for or against.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • I completely understand what Baz said above and agree with Shawn when he says:

    “International students who come to this country legally (by getting the appropriate student visas) still have to pay out-of-state tuition. They don’t have the option of gaining in-state status.”

    On a lighter side, international students in my department have been joking about how life would be easier and how they might end up being US citizens faster by first becoming “illegals”. 🙂

    So, in that sense my gut feeling is against the act.

  • For those advocating the rights of illegal immigrants, do you also advocate discontinuing all US legal immigration procedures and completely open our borders which would instantly increase our population 10 fold? Or do you believe people should be honest and simply go through the legal processes to come here?

  • @cleverdude: Thanks for the clarification.

    Would it be more acceptable for most people if the children of illegal immigrants were allowed in-state tuition in their state of residence?

    So (for example) if you are illegal alien and live and go to high school in Texas, then you could get in-state tuition at the University of Texas, but not at Penn State.

  • @Plonkee:

    “Would it be more acceptable for most people if the children of illegal immigrants were allowed in-state tuition in their state of residence?”

    That seems like a good idea in theory … but what is stopping them from moving to the city where they want to go to college? I grew up in Arizona and wanted to go to school in MA. I had to live there for 2 years and work and pay taxes in order to qualify for instate tuition there, where an illegal immigrant just has to show up and say “i’m illegal” and they get in state tuition.

    I can also see the bigger picture here and think it is a better idea to make education available, but do we have to do it in a way that penalizes citizens?

  • Wow. I’m very excited about the amount of debate that this post generated.

    I agree with your sentiments. As can be discerned, I tend to lean a little right on most issues, but I am also a Christian. And the Christian values I hold teach me that every human life is a precious gift and should be treated with respect. I also believe that every person in the US (legal or not) has the right to basic social services (even though the very idea of providing these services to illegals does nothing to deter them from coming here illegally). Currently, children of illegal immigrants have access to free public education and are not barred from attending colleges or universities in this nation — so I don’t believe that we are restricting access to education. My only problem with the legislation is the fact that it creates a loophole for one particular demographic while ignoring all others.

  • There you go! Well said Shawn. That’s what I was trying to say, lol.

    Please understand, I’m not disagreeing because of my particular position (I’m done with school, for now, so it doesn’t really bother me). My position adds a third perspective, instead of just immigrants and citizens.

    BUT, it’s like this: If ONE particular demographic group should have preference in this matter, why are we giving it to ILLEGAL immigrant? I don’t get it. Fair is fair. If we’re rewarding people with in-state tuition, shouldn’t we start with the guys that follow the rules?

  • I’m sorry to see a subscriber go, but I apologize if you thought my site was purely about finance. As one commenter replied to your comment, this definitely boils down to money, which is the core of finance.

    If you’re unsubscribing because of my opinions or presentation, then I understand, but I’d also like to know your idea of finances if paying thousands more for tuition is not included in your definition. I’ve never been the normal finance writer, because I give information from my own life and experiences and leave the rest up to the professionals. That’s why my tagline is Family, Marriage, Finances & Life. It’s not just a PF site.

    Thanks for being a subscriber. I would like to see you back, but respect your decision to leave.

  • You know, I should add that there are illegal immigrants from all countries. Sure, right now most are coming in from Mexico because of the quality of living and proximity, but if this particular debate was about race, then I would be saying “well, let the white people from Canada and Europe get the benefit, but not Mexicans”. No, they’re all illegal immigrants, regardless of race.

    This is not a race issue. This is not a class issue. People without a better argument make it one because they don’t understand the issue. This is an issue purely about money and legal processes. Not race.

  • @Johanna – you’re a troll. And I say that in the very nicest way. ;o)

    @Everyone else – something else to consider that is really, really important:

    If illegal aliens (people or extraterrestrials, doesn’t matter if they’re here illegally) are given free choice of American state universities at in-state rates, the number of illegal aliens who attend college will go up. They will be competing with American citizens and LEGAL aliens for a limited number of admission slots each year.

    When one understands that admissions are biased to preferentially admit MINORITIES (even when the “minority” is actually in the MAJORITY in that area), this means that the illegal aliens will be displacing persons LEGALLY entitled to attend the university.

    The result of this will be an ILLEGAL population that is better educated than the LEGAL population in a few years. That is a threat to national security, and must be stopped.

  • Baz: I think Nantahala’s objection is calling people “illegal” instead of “illegal immigrants.” The latter is a reasonably accurate descriptive term. The former is not. Actions are illegal; people are not. That was the point I was trying to make earlier.

    Clever Dude and Shawn: First you tried to argue that illegal immigrants should not be entitled to pay in-state tuition because they don’t pay taxes. I pointed out that they do pay taxes. Then you tried to argue that they should not be entitled to pay in-state tuition simply because they have broken the law.

    But we do not deny in-state tuition to CHILDREN of people who break any other law. (If you’re starting college five years after you immigrated illegally, it’s overwhelmingly likely that you were a minor at the time you immigrated, so it’s your parents who bear the responsibility for breaking the law, not you.) If both your parents are in prison for murder, does that disqualify you from getting in-state tuition? I don’t think it does.

    Would you care to try again?

  • Johanna,

    I never used not paying taxes as a basis for opposing the legislation. I responded to your assertion that they do pay taxes. I’m not arguing that point.

    You are correct, we do not deny in-state tuition to children of people who break any other law. I would argue that we would deny that right to the person who broke the law until they’ve paid their debt to society.

    What that debt is depends on the crime. If a person murders another, then that debt would be jail time. Once they’ve served their time, they would be eligible for the same benefits as everyone else.

    The problem you’re failing to address is that, just because the child was a minor doesn’t mean that they weren’t breaking the law as well. Are you saying that children are incapable of committing crimes? If that were the case, we wouldn’t have a juvenile court system.

    Once the illegal immigrants have paid their debt to society, then I would argue that they would be eligible for the same benefits. In this case, deportation followed by entering the country in a legal manner.

    Finally, my wording does indicate that we should not allow the benefit because they are breaking the law. Maybe I should clarify. Currently, they are not allowed in-state tuition because they are not state residents (the basis for getting that benefit). The legislation seeks to create a loophole for them, however, it is doing so for a population that continuously ignores the law.

  • I think the point is that children don’t have the opportunity to not break the law. If their parents immigrate then they have to go with them. I have no idea whether it is normal in US law to punish children for crimes that they were unable to not commit but I can see why some people would object. (I have no idea whether or not its is normal in British law either, the idea has never occurred to me before).

    As an outsider, to me the biggest clue that this legislation is probably not a good idea (from the point of view of the general public) is that it is tacked onto defence legislation.

  • On the Latino side immigration is a very painful subject because most of Latin America feels that Mexicans get special treatment (much like Cubans in Florida) — and it cause for a lot of strife and conflict within our community. Why should a Mexican farmworker get preferential treatment over a doctor from Caracas? That’s a question I’ve never been able to answer — it still troubles me to this day.

    Being of PR descent, I’ve always had a hard time with the illegal immigration thing, especially in Puerto Rico where social services are already strained with regular citizens. When we get an influx from DR, Cuba, Haiti, or any of our other Caribbean brothers and sisters trying to jump ship — the strain on local communities where crime rate is one of the highest in the world, jobs are scarce and schools are pushed to the limit — is very visible. Larger cities like LA can absorb more immigrants because they are usually stimulating the economy or giving back to it in some way. This is almost never the case in PR — there really are no extra jobs available for people looking for those golden opportunities.

    It’s heartbreaking at times, but I believe you should take care of your own first and foremost.

    On the one hand you want to be able to extend opportunities to people who need them, and on the other hand you have to take care of the people you already have.

    Issues like these are by nature without a win-win resolution.

    No matter what you decide, someone will suffer.

  • In addendum, I would like to clarify that a person’s social class should not be any more a determining factor than their nationality… in regards to my farmworker vs. doctor comment.

  • Stop breaking the law. This is so annonying WRONG IS WRONG!!!!! There is no nice/or good way to spin it. The United States has rules in place for a reason. If you don’t like the United States Laws for coming to the state legally, then please repect them and don’t come!!!!! If your a good smart person, stay in your own country and try to fix it they need your more then we do. We as United States Citizen have a Great Country because GOOD MEN AND WOMEN WORKED for it!!!!!!!! You should not get to be a part of if it if you break US Law!

  • Wow m. “If you don’t like the …”, “If your good smart person, stay in your own country…”.

    Wow. Such hostility, such anger, such closed mindedness. The sad thing is I’ve come to expect it. I mean, you guys (citizens) have had a lot to worry about with the whole 911 thing, so I guess I understand where some of it is coming from. But what you’re doing m, is stereotyping. You’re basically saying that the US would be better with no immigrants (legal or otherwise).

    But it’s all good.

  • I have no problem with legal immigration. We have over 12 million illegal aliens in the US they use our health care, roads, schools. It is showing up higher insurance, taxes, and tuition. Extra cost to build boarders, money for fuel for deportation, is all costing more and more money.

    The government has a set number it allows into the US, to stop it form becoming over populated. Sneaking in causing my government to waste its valuable time talking about illegal aliens in our county, instead, of important discussions like Medicare, Health Coverage, and other import issue. It is extremely rude, to feel a right to get my same liberties by just sneaking into the US. Law can be changed, yes… but this is a “novel” idea, if you don’t follow it before it is changed you are BREAKING IT!!!! And that is never ok….

    I’m so tired of people crying, about getting sent back. You knew it was a possibility when you snuck over here… and for the most part it is US Policy to send you back…

  • – i’m only trying to say… please come over legally….. and be proud to be a us citizen and if your working with the government on being a legal citizen even better!!!

    I love going to ball games with old vet’s(WWII) that are still very “proud to be an American.”

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