Monday, August 23, 2004

Immigration Education

A few weeks ago, there was an Op-Ed piece in The Boston Globe that pretty much bad-mouthed one of the local politicians for supporting a piece of legislation that would provide in-state tuition rates to "illegal immigrants". Having both a brain and an opinion, I chose to research the truth and compose an appropriate rebuttal.

After too much time procrastinating, I've assembled the fruits of my labor and thoughts into a response piece which I submitted to the newspaper this afternoon. I offer it here considering the possible case it isn't published in it's entirety, it isn't published at all, or you are reading from outside of The Boston Globe publication area. I am very curious about your thoughts and especially with any feedback my friends from across the pond, outside of the United States.

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The Real Deal on the In-State Tuition Bill
I am writing in response to a piece written by Mal Schulze of Framingham, and published in the pages of the Globe West on July 18th, 2004, entitled "Spilka's Priorities on Tuition are Misplaced". I suspect this "expression of outrage" by Mr. Schulze was either written out of political bias with the intent to harm Karen Spilka's excellent reputation and record, ignorance of the facts - that is the actual text of the legislation, or some combination of both. As both the son and husband of an immigrant as well as an American citizen residing in the state of Massachusetts, I have some opinions about the topic, and I've researched the facts to perhaps clear up some confusion for Mr. Schulze and the readers who saw his piece.

Mr. Schulze comments "she apparently considers subsidizing illegal aliens more important than our own children's needs" and "there's not enough funding. But apparently what money is available she believes should be given to illegal aliens." Reading statements like these could easily lead you to believe that we’re about to give a free pass to anyone who managed to keep a tire tube afloat long enough to reach our shores. This is not the case. Here's the exact wording directly from the article of legislation (which I obtained simply by asking for it):

"...for the purpose of determining eligibility for in-state tuition rates and fees at public institutions of higher individual...who has attended high school in the commonwealth for 3 or more years and has achieved graduation from a high school in the commonwealth or attained the equivalent thereof, shall be eligible for in-state tuition rates and fees at the University of Massachusetts, or any Commonwealth state or community college; but, in the case of an individual who is not a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, the individual shall provide…an affidavit stating that the individual has filed an application to become a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or will file an application at the earliest opportunity the individual is eligible to do so."
Having presented you, the reader, with these words, I feel that I would be insulting your intelligence my elaborating beyond my own interpretation (which I suspect will be similar to yours). It appears to me that those who support this piece of legislation are simply willing to give those who have proved themselves to be worthy, are willing and able, and have demonstrated a legitimate desire to become contributors to our state's work force (and system of taxation, thereby adding, not taking away from revenues in the long run), cultural diversity, and abide by the rules and regulations of the Immigration laws of our countries (the same ones built upon by our own ancestors) a chance to do so. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education defines themselves in the following words (extracted from their web site at "The public higher education system in Massachusetts is committed to ensuring that all Massachusetts residents have the opportunity to benefit from a higher education that enriches their lives and advances their contributions to civic life, economic development, and social progress in the Commonwealth." Notice how they refer to "all Massachusetts residents" as opposed to just those who are American citizens.

I am certain that the text of the legislation speaks for itself and clearly distinguishes the mission of those who support it. I am also confident that those of you, like myself, who at least had questions after reading Mr. Schulze's words now have the real information on which you can make your decision. Schulze closes his text with the words "any candidate of any party who would be willing to put illegal aliens above our own citizens deserves to lose his or her election". These are strong words for someone who so obviously either didn't understand what they were commenting on or intentionally twisted the context with MAL-intent.

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