Under current state law, illegal immigrants qualify for in-state tuition at the University of California if they attend a California high school for at least three years and graduate with a diploma or GED. A lawsuit working its way through the court system, Martinez v. Regents, threatens to take away this tuition break.
UC has supported the tuition break since it became law, and university representatives say they will continue providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants until the lawsuit has been completely resolved. UC spokesperson Ricardo Vázquez told The Aggie last week that illegal immigrant students deserve in-state tuition “because through their hard work and perseverance, [undocumented] students have earned an opportunity to attend UC.“
While the resolve and achievements of these students are admirable and undeniable, this is not reason enough to provide them with a tuition break, for two reasons.
First of all, the very nature of being an illegal alien means one cannot work legally in California or the United States. Supporters of the subsidy say they want to offer illegal immigrants the ability to improve their lives, get better jobs and support their families. This may be a laudable goal, but this attitude completely ignores the fact that without a social security number or an immigration status, there are very few (if any) reputable employers who would even consider hiring an illegal immigrant.
Additionally, California’s severe budget problems mean that the university is already struggling to fund everything it needs. Just this year UC announced that it would raise student fees yet again. When students who are legal California residents have to pay more and more every year, it simply does not make sense to provide a subsidized education to someone who is not even a legal resident of the state.
Immigration is a frustrating issue, one that needs more attention from legislators and policymakers. It is unfortunate that illegal immigrants who may have spent their whole lives in the U.S. have to pay the price for their parents‘ choice in bringing them here illegally, but this alone is not enough to require Californians and UC students to pay the price for them.