By not voting on the tuition parity bill in the legislature yesterday, New Jersey failed to capitalize on an opportunity to make higher education easier for long-time New Jersey residents. (It is duly noted that in-state tuition bills targeted towards undocumented residents also help American citizens and legal permanent residents afford college.) But the small setback means nothing in the larger scheme of things.
Was the New Jersey legislature afraid to take a vote on the bill with phones ringing off the hook in support? Anti-immigrant forces are declaring the cowardly act by New Jersey as a victory. Emails are going out declaring “NJ votes against illegal alien invaders.” Actually, the bill never came up for a vote. But never mind the facts -– anti-immigrant people are not too concerned about those. Making up facts to suit our reality is something we should learn from them.
I can take a stab at it right now. Legalizing undocumented immigrants will pump $1,500,000,000,000 into the economy whereas deporting them all would cost us around $2,500,000,000,000. Oh, wait: that is documented research.
In the meantime, William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), warns that he will attempt to roll back in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in states that already have it. He intends to put promigrant advocates on the defensive, which apparently is supposed to lead to abandonment of comprehensive immigration reform. Of course, the two issues are not connected, but such is a the naivety of anti-immigrant fervor.
The in-state tuition lawsuits in Texas and California might trouble the state coffers as states fight to defend themselves, but they certainly do not trouble the students or pro-migrant advocates. This also gives new purpose to pro-migrant advocates to push for the federal DREAM Act, passage of which would strike down the federal law that supposedly prohibits “benefits” for undocumented students in higher education. Do note, that all lawsuits against tuition parity for undocumented students, except a District Court decision last year, have been thrown out of court over the past several years. This is nothing but a money-wasting tactic designed to distract us from immigration reform.
At the same time, Gheen is putting politicians in Washington D.C. on notice. That was quite hilarious considering that as a Political Action Committee, ALIPAC spends less than 5% of political contributions on elections — and Gheen himself pockets half the donations.
What kind of naïve ignoramus does it take to fall for this kind of business?
My heart goes out to the students in New Jersey who have to suffer as a consequence as misplaced anger and hatred. But the arc of justice is on our side, and eventually we will prevail.
Photo Credit: informatique