I know a popular Massachusetts governor who might be president someday. And, no, I’m not talking about Mitt Romney.
From the Boston Globe:
“Governor Deval Patrick will direct state colleges and universities Monday to allow young illegal immigrants to pay the lower resident rate for tuition and fees as soon as they obtain work permits through a new federal program, a senior administration official said Sunday. …
Patrick’s announcement dramatically slashes the cost of a college education for immigrants who until now had to pay out-of-state rates.
For example, the flagship University of Massachusetts Amherst costs $26,645 this year for nonresidents, compared with $13,230 for residents, while Bunker Hill Community College costs $5,640 this year for residents, compared with $13,880 for nonresidents. And Framingham State costs $8,080 for residents this year, compared with $14,160 for nonresidents.
Patrick’s decision comes less than two weeks after a contentious election season, and it is likely to rankle critics in a state where immigration has been a hot political issue. In 2004, the state Legislature passed a bill allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, but then-Governor Mitt Romney, this year’s Republican presidential nominee who just lost to Obama, vetoed the measure, and subsequent efforts failed.”
Critics of progressive immigration reform say the governor’s announcement is a bad move for the state of Massachusetts and the country as a whole.
Steve Kropper of Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform argued that President Obama and Governor Patrick should focus on making school more affordable for American citizens, instead of making life easier for undocumented immigrants. “The Democratic Party’s position is not thoughtful about our own poor,” Kropper said on Sunday.
Patrick, however, is one of many officials who believe providing in-state tuition to youngsters who are undocumented through no fault of their own is the right thing to do, calling it a “matter of fairness” during a radio interview in October. “They didn’t sneak in,” he said, according to the State House News Service. “They were brought here by their parents. They only know one country and that is the United States.”
Of course, issues concerning the treatment of undocumented immigrants is highly contentious. Generally speaking, progressives argue that a distinction should be made between the adults who either come here illegally or overstay their visits and the children brought here by their parents. Conservatives, on the other hand, say that showing leniency to undocumented children only provides an incentive to parents to bring their children to the United States where they’ll be treated fairly and given the opportunity to legalize their statuses.
Both sides make strong points. But if we’re forced to choose between two wrongs, let’s choose the wrong that doesn’t allow innocent people to suffer through life needlessly.
That’s what Governor Patrick is doing in his state, and that’s what President Obama wants to do on the national level through the DREAM Act.