The next time you pay your student loan, write a tuition check or contribute to your children’s college fund, know that New York Assembly Democrats and Gov. Cuomo are pushing to give free college tuition to illegal immigrants. Only feckless Senate Republicans, whose string of capitulations to Democrats is too long to list, stand in their way.
Illegal immigrants already get taxpayer-subsidized in-state tuition. The so-called Dream Act proposal, which just passed the Assembly, would make illegal immigrants eligible for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program and the Excelsior Scholarship, known colloquially as Cuomo’s free-college program.
In 2010, New York state decided it could no longer afford to give the TAP to New Yorkers seeking a master’s degree. Now, however, the governor and Assembly Democrats have determined that a bachelor’s degree for illegal immigrants is a higher priority than a master’s degree for a citizen. Despite a $4 billion shortfall, the governor’s budget proposal includes millions of illegal immigrants to go to college on the taxpayer.
TAP and Excelsior don’t cover fees, books or room and board. However, the Dream Fund, a pot of privately donated money publicly subsidized through tax deductions, gives college assistance only to those who have at least one parent who is an immigrant. Thus an illegal immigrant can get free tuition plus expenses paid from a subsidized fund for which a student with two American parents isn’t even eligible. This is a taxpayer-funded codification of discrimination against Americans.
Don’t believe that 2-year-olds brought here illegally by their parents who have lived in the United States most of their lives are the only ones who will benefit from this program. During the Assembly debate on this legislation, the sponsor admitted that a 19-year-old, for example, could sneak into the country, make his way to New York, wait 30 days, get a GED and qualify for TAP or Excelsior.
There’s also no prohibition on illegal-immigrant felons availing themselves of taxpayer-funded college.
Proponents of the legislation argue that we have already invested so much in those who would benefit from this bill, we must therefore further subsidize their education. But this is actually an argument against the free college for illegal immigrants. After all, taxpayers already have paid enough to those who are here in violation of the law.
Proponents also claim that because illegal immigrants put so much into the economy that it would grind to a halt without them, we must pay for their college. This argument raises the question: If illegal immigrants are such an economic powerhouse, why can’t they fund their own education?
Other defenders of the proposal argue that immigrants pay some taxes so they should be entitled to everything citizens and legal residents receive from the state. Yet, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, illegal immigrants pay $192 million per year in New York state taxes but cost state and local taxpayers $9.5 billion per year including $5.83 billion in annual education costs.
When their arguments fail, Dream Act proponents quickly pivot to the race card. Those of us who opposed this legislation were smeared as “white supremacists” and likened to members of hate groups when this bill was debated in the Assembly this week.
A million New Yorkers have left our state since 2010. One-sixth of the 2018 legislative session is already on the books. We have done almost nothing to address the problems millions of citizens of New York are facing. But the Assembly voted a major benefit to people in the country illegally, and our governor is pushing for it in his budget.
Republicans hold a nominal majority in the state Senate. Still, the MO of Senate Republicans is to pass more or less what the governor and Democrats want and then claim that it would have been much worse but for their strong stand.
On this issue, modestly diluting this legislation will not do. Senate Republicans can and must prevent all aspects of this legislation from becoming law.
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