The Arizona Desert Lamp

Expatriate Tuition

Posted in Campus by Evan Lisull on 25 August 2008

Blame in on the cold rock that was placed where my heart should be, but I have trouble feeling sympathy in reading this piece about illegal immigrants who have had to drop out of the UA. Here’s the main premise:

Changing laws have made life tougher for illegal immigrants in Arizona, including young people giving up dreams of college and better lives because they are unable to pay out-of-state tuition as required by voters.

Keep in mind, Proposition 300 never banned these students from attending school; the proposition merely refused to grant in-state status to those who could not prove their citizenship in the country. This makes purely intuitive sense; if you aren’t a citizen of the United States, then you cannot possibly be a citizen of the state of Arizona.

It’s also worth juxtaposing these sorts of stories with the rise of in-state tuition fraud, that was covered by Laura Donovan last semester. Their ulterior objectives are clearly different, but it ultimately comes down to the same principle: non-Arizona citizens are attempting to portray themselves as Arizona residents for cheaper tuition.

Ricardo Castro, vice president of Fundacion Mexico, says unless all these students are deported, most of them are going to stay in this country without the option of continuing their education.

“They will be second-class citizens, and that is contradictory,” he said. “They are people who grew up here; they are an important part of their communities.”

But that’s not right either; they are citizens of a different nation, and thus will pay tuition pursuant to that citizenship status.

Now, having established this, from a policy standpoint it doesn’t make sense to entirely close the door on what seem to be some pretty high achieving kids. This is why a guest-worker program, with a long-term path to citizenship, is so essential. To be fair, one issue I haven’t quite worked out in my head is how a guest-worker program would deal with the children and families of those workers. It’s easy to say that they can’t come along, but this presents obvious problems that a seventh year “check-in” policy cannot solve.

Ultimately, I would like to see this done at a state-based level, as was proposed a few months ago and went nowhere (Shameless plug: I wrote a column on this last spring). Bureaucratic intransigence from the DHS dictates that this will never happen. But ideally, you would have a very wide guest-worker program, for both agricultural, mechanical, and skilled workers. They would, in a sense be second-class citizens; but only in the sense that they have full citizenship rights in Mexico, along with many rights in the U.S.

Images from Flickr, courtesy of user klynslis


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  1. […] the blogger at Arizona Desert Lamp says (commenting on immigrant workers in the US, but the same is just as true […]

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