A U.S. congressional hearing focusing on a controversial illegal immigrant education law drew criticism from Republican lawmakers, signaling their intent to make the law a partisan election issue in November.
“Allowing in-state tuition for illegal aliens encourages the violation of federal immigration law and is unfair to legal aliens and out-of-state U.S. citizens,” says U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo, referring to a main tenet of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
Musgrave, who faces strong Democratic opposition in her re-election effort this fall, was one of just two members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce who attended the hearing at the University of Northern Colorado last week.
Immigration reform is a hot-button political issue in Colorado, which has a large and growing population of undocumented workers, mostly from Mexico and other Central American countries. So far, 10 states have defied federal law and chosen to offer in-state tuition to the college eligible children of illegal immigrants. Colorado has made no such move.
The DREAM Act would allow states to offer in-state tuition to illegal immigrant college students under the age of 18. Once a student turns 18, the bill provides a speedy path to citizenship and protection from deportation.
During the hearing, one of DREAM Act’s harshest critics was panelist and University of Missouri law professor Kris Kobach, who called it “perverse” and “ridiculous.”
“The DREAM Act makes it absurdly easy for just about any illegal … to evade the law,” he told the committee.
Several prospective college students, all children of illegal immigrants, gathered outside the hearing to show their support for the bill.
Alex Chavira, an 18-year-old high school graduate from neighboring Longmont, Colo., was born in Mexico but attended elementary, middle and high school in Colorado. He now wants to attend college, but says that without some financial help, “it’s like running into a brick wall.” Despite a solid academic background, he says his application to a local community college was denied because of his illegal status.
Chavira says the bill would help illegal immigrants obtain degrees and become productive citizens, adding that current immigration laws are unfair and need to be changed.
Chavira says that he has never returned to Mexico and that because he was raised and educated in the United States, he considers himself an American, not a Mexican.
“I know nothing about Mexico,” he says. “I’m an American, but not legal.”
— By Peter Eichstaedt
Reader comments on this story:
There are currently 2 reader comments on this story:
“taking full control”
-Mary G. Acres,
“stop punishing the children”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com