Herald Journal Columns
April 24, 2006, Herald Journal

Dream or nightmare?


Hang on, folks. The crazy train has taken an abrupt left turn.

The debate over illegal immigration has heated up in recent months, and one avenue of discussion involves an especially bizarre twist.

Illegal immigration fans among our Minnesota legislators have included the so called “DREAM Act” in higher education bills in both the senate and the house (this fanciful acronym stands for development, relief, and education for alien minors).

The proposal is to charge in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

Proponents say that we need to provide affordable college education to illegal immigrants.

In what twisted world does this make sense?

Not only are they not Minnesota residents, they are not even United States citizens.

What message does this send to students from states such as Iowa or Nebraska, who have to pay significantly higher non-resident tuition if they wish to attend college here?

And what message does it send to those who are trying to legitimately become citizens of this country when we continue to try to find ways to reward those who are here illegally?

Governor Pawlenty has been called a “dream-slayer,” and has been labeled as some sort of a monster for his opposition to the plan.

What has he done to deserve this label?

He has maintained that we should not reward illegal behavior.

Scandalous, isn’t it? How dare he stand up for law and common sense?

The left turn referenced above relates to the notion that we need to provide a college education for illegal immigrants in the first place.

A minute ago, supporters of illegal aliens were telling us that we need undocumented workers to support our economy, because they fill jobs that Americans will not take.

Now, they tell us that if we do not offer in-state tuition to these same immigrants, we are condemning them to low-paying, menial jobs.

So, which is it?

And, how are we suddenly responsible for dashing the dreams of these individuals?

We did not ask them to sneak into this country, or operate outside of the law.

The notion that, because they have somehow managed to get across the border, they are now entitled to the benefits of citizenship without any of the responsibilities, is absurd.

Supporters of the legislation argue that the statute would require that qualifying students attend high school in this state at least three years before graduation.

This suggests that, since taxpayers have footed the bill for their education this far, they should pony up and give them some more benefits when they decide to go to college.

The question is not about education. Education is a good thing, and higher education becomes more important with each passing year.

The question is about providing benefits to people who choose to break the law.

It doesn’t matter whether the benefit is education, or health care, or housing. When someone receives a benefit, someone else pays.

If the person receiving the benefit is part of the system, that is one thing.

If the person receiving the benefit claims to love this country, but continues to live outside of the law and expects to reap the rewards of living in this country without accepting any of the responsibilities, that is something else.

If we allow the kind of misguided thinking that supports non-resident tuition and other benefits for illegal immigrants to guide public policy, the dream will become a nightmare.

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