If we ban illegal immigrants from college, we only hurt ourselves

WASHINGTON — Stay in school. Work hard. Make good grades. If you do those things, you can go to college and earn a good living.

All over America, teachers repeat that mantra in their classrooms. Parents say it, too. So do coaches, bus drivers and Boy Scout leaders.

It’s no accident that as many as 13,000 illegal immigrants are attending college in the United States. Brought to this country as kids, they have become completely Americanized, absorbing the language patterns, habits and dreams of the ambitious among their native-born classmates.

Just as their teachers urged, they stayed in school. They worked hard. They made good grades. They enrolled in college.

But unless Congress passes the DREAM Act, their good behavior may not be rewarded. Any day, they could be arrested and scheduled for deportation to a country they barely know.

That’s what happened to Jessica Colotl, a Kennesaw

State University student who was arrested in March after a routine traffic stop on campus. She was shipped off to a deportation facility, where she was held until protests from academic leaders and immigration activists bought her a reprieve. Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement have said she will be allowed to finish her degree, but she is still subject to deportation when she’s done.

(That doesn’t go far enough for some Georgia lawmakers. Next month, the State Board of Regents will consider a proposal to ban illegal immigrants from the state’s most selective universities. Several legislators want to ban them from all post-secondary education.)

A similar fate awaits Harvard University student Eric Balderas, who was arrested in June while trying to board a plane back to Boston after visiting his family in Texas. Balderas, who hopes to one day become a cancer researcher, was valedictorian of his San Antonio high school class.

Why aren’t we proud of the all-American accomplishments of Colotl, Balderas and the thousands of students like them? There can be no rational argument that they have refused to learn English or that they represent a permanent underclass. So why don’t we embrace them as future Americans?

Instead, we’ve succumbed to nativist resentments, refusing to acknowledge how much the country needs more college-educated workers. While critics of illegal immigration insist that the country should concentrate on importing workers who are already highly skilled, that’s no substitute for growing our own college grads.

An Indian or Chinese engineer, admitted on an H-1B visa, may decide to work here a few years before returning home.

But kids like Balderas and Colotl consider themselves Americans. They have no intention of returning to countries that are foreign to them. So why not grant them citizenship under certain strict conditions?

The DREAM Act would not be a lure for countless undocumented workers hoping to get a foothold in the U.S. It is narrowly targeted to kids who entered the country before they turned 16, have been here at least five years and have exhibited good moral character. If they complete two years of college or military service, they’d be eligible for a path to citizenship.

Still, the legislation has run into strong headwinds. When a vote came up in the Senate this week to attach the DREAM Act to a defense bill, it failed. Even Utah’s Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, who in 2007 supported a similar ploy to introduce a nearly-identical bill, refused to vote for it. Hatch told The Salt Lake Tribune that his constituents want government “to secure our borders.”

That’s a reversal from a position that Hatch held earlier this year, when he reportedly told a public forum: “If they’ve lived good lives, if they’ve done good things, why would we penalize them and not let them at least go to school?”

The problem is, we’re not just penalizing them. We’re hurting ourselves, too.

Interviewed Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was born to Jamaican immigrants, said as much: “We can’t be anti-immigration. Immigrants are fueling this country. Without immigrants, America would be like Europe or Japan with an aging population and no young people coming in to take care of it. We have to educate our immigrants. The DREAM Act is one way to do that.”

It’s too bad Hatch doesn’t have the courage to remind his constituents of that.

584 comments Add your comment

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

September 22nd, 2010
8:09 am

I don’t understand what part of “illegal” people don’t understand. Go get in line, apply for a visa and when admitted, then and only then reap the bounty that this country bestows. Illegal means just that, break our laws and get rewarded just doesn’t sit well with most Americans. Educate immigrants, I can live with that, educate illegals only on our immigration laws.

quod erat demonstrandum

September 22nd, 2010
8:12 am

The part of illegal that the lefties do understand is that they should get more rights and privileges than legal immigrants or citizens.

Since they think the US is the root of all evil, letting in illegals helps their troubled souls.

In other words – lefties are not lucid or cognizant of reality.

granny godzilla

September 22nd, 2010
8:13 am

It really has been sad to see Hatch on the Dream Act

and McCain on the repeal of DADT

and Voinovich, Snowe and Collins on PAYGO

and Hatch, Grassly, Bond and Bennett on the Healthcare mandate

and McConnell, Coburn, Ensign, Bond, Burr, Isakson, Chambliss on TARP…..

and McConnell, McCain and Boehner on Campaign Financial disclosure

and McCain, Graham and Kirk on cap and trade

Starting to see a pattern?

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:13 am

“If we ban illegal immigrants from college, we only hurt ourselves”

Wrong, Cindy Lou. They need to go back home, get visas and whatnot like all the other US citizens that came from other countries, then they can enjoy our great universities.

“But unless Congress passes the DREAM Act”

I pray they don’t. There’s already a way to become a citizen. I wonder what those who did it the right way for so many years think of all these short cuts?

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:15 am

Granny, on DADT, if the Democrats didn’t try to sneak that amnesty-ish law in that bill yesterday, the bill probably would have passed.

carlosgvv

September 22nd, 2010
8:17 am

Cynthia, how many other countries allow as many illegal immigrants to enter as we have? If there are others, who are they? If there are none, why not?

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:17 am

Peadawg@8:13, I don’t think you understand our immigration laws very well. Under current law, many of these kids would be in their 50s before they could enter the country legally.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:18 am

quod@8:12, How is the ability to get a college degree having “more rights and privileges than legal immigrants and citizens.” Please explain

arnold

September 22nd, 2010
8:20 am

The Republican Party has taken over the foolishness first perpetrated by the Democrat Party during the 60’s. The Tea party/Republicans/religious right want to overthrow the government, but don’t have a plan of their own. Does this sound familiar?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. In the 19th century there was a fear of Catholics. In the 20th century it was the Jews. This is the 21st century and now it’s the Muslims. Immigrant fear is a bonus to the nut cases.

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:21 am

ctucker @ 8:17,

Like I said, I wonder what the people who did it that way with hard work and determination think of all these short cuts that Congress is trying to pass? If I was one of them, I’d be pissed.

Cynthia Is Sexy!!

September 22nd, 2010
8:23 am

I wonder how many illegals currenlty have defaulted on their college loans? Its bad enough the legals are defaulting and someone has to pay for that but illegals receiving grants, scholarships…I think not.

Send them packing.

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:23 am

How can you justify letting someone who is here illegally into a college over someone who is here legally? I just don’t get it……

Cynthia Is Sexy!!

September 22nd, 2010
8:24 am

The “Dream” Act *TEWY*

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

Cynthia is Sexy, don’t you mean *piffle*? Or *squirrel*? Or whatever one-liner granny and kammy can come up with?

Blue Man on a Red Island

September 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

This immigration debate is insane!!!!! How can we as a country support deporting children who have been here their entire lives, have been productive members of society, established themselves as excellent students and been admitted to our colleges and universities? What kind of people would want to send someone that has been here since birth back to a country they have never even visited versus aloow them to continue on and become future leaders in science, technology and academia?

What Colin Powell said is absolutely true. Just look at what is happening in Japan right now as the population ages and there are not enough educated and skilled workers to fill the jobs that will literally drive their economy for the next 50 years.

It’s not as simple as “what part of illegal do you not understand”, we need moe students like the ones described in Cynthia’s article to help drive our own economy into the future. It’s always been that way in the country and it always will be.

Manufacturing IS NOT, repeat, IS NOT going to drive this country in the future. It can’t, as we have all now seen. We need as many good students trained in science and technology as we can possibly have.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:26 am

Peadawg@8:23, Most colleges in America are not like Harvard or Georgia Tech. They accept any student with decent high school grades and test scores. So, illegal students are not getting into a college over someone who is here legally.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:27 am

Blue Man@8:26, I agree completely

A Lumpkin Resident

September 22nd, 2010
8:28 am

Well, the Board of Regents in GA, yesterday, recommended banning illegals from all State Colleges and Universities where they cannot accept all qualified applicants. What does that mean? It means that Cynthia Tucker was WRONG. There are state institutions where illegal aliens are taking seats that should rightly go to law abiding tax paying citizens of the United States and Georgia. In fact, there are at least 29 students identified as currently enrolled and taking a spot from a legal citizen. Now, some Regent Larry Ellis might say, “Thirty kids out of 310,000,” Ellis said. “Give me a break.” But if YOUR CHILD was one of those who did not get into the college of his choice because some illegal immigrant who had, up till now, been nothing more than a financial drag on society while you dutifully paid decades of taxes to the state , you would be rightly pissed off.

Keep up the good fight!

September 22nd, 2010
8:29 am

What part of irrational knee-jerk mentality don’t you understand? We say illegal, they say “out”. These kids, some of them 1 yr or less, when brought into this country, are so smart they knew better when they came to this country even at that age. Of course, we really were not enforcing the law much then, but they were smart enough to know that we would when we let the Republicans teach us to fear everything. They pay their way and consider themselves Americans and in fact may be smarter than our kids, so we must fear them. Its much better to secure our borders and keep them closed. Our minds are closed and rational arguments will not work!

Closed minds means closed borders, despite the impossibility of the task, the rational argument that not all unlawful entrants are the same and that some contribute more to our country than some of our own children.

Blue Man on a Red Island

September 22nd, 2010
8:30 am

Peadwag – How is this a short cut? It sets a path for hard working young people to become a citizen by serving their country or working to receive a degree and become a productive member of society.

Do you not agree that anyone, and I mean anyone, willing to serve this country in the military deserves the right to become a citizen? If that is not the ulimate sacrifice for the good of our nation I don’t know what is.

quod erat demonstrandum

September 22nd, 2010
8:31 am

ctucker,

I would hazard my guess on the in-state tuition paid by the illegals. After all they are residents of Georgia. Legal immigrants have earned that privilege.

Also, the infamous motor-voter act gives the illegal an easy path to the vote.

Just the fact that they are illegal and the Feds are saying that they are only interested in the “violent” illegals makes it just that much easier for the hard worker to stay forever.

By the way, did you see where Obama’s aunt says that citizenship is a right for illegals?

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:31 am

Blue Man, it’s quite simple. The parents should have taken responsibility and came to this country the right way. (Kinda like parents not blaming teachers for their kids poor grades, etc. I’m beginning to see a pattern).

Thanks, Lumpkin. I didn’t have time to google the stats.

JKL2

September 22nd, 2010
8:31 am

granny- Starting to see a pattern?

Yes, the inmates aren’t getting free reign of the assylum anymore.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:32 am

A Lumpkin Resident@8:28, A committee recommended barring illegal immigrants from some Georgia schools. That’s a move I disagree with, by the way. But there are other colleges — like Kennesaw State —‚ that are not on that list. That means Jessica Colotl isn’t taking a seat that should “rightly go to law abiding tax paying citizens”

quod erat demonstrandum

September 22nd, 2010
8:32 am

Personally, I would issue the illegals, that would come forward, a residence card good for two years with no path to citizenship.

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:32 am

Blue Man, it’s a short cut compared to what we have, and have had, for many many years. Again, if I was someone who came from another country through the process we have now, I’d be pissed about the short cuts.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:33 am

Peadawg@8:31, Whatever their parents have done, I’ll repeat what I said in my post: This country needs more college-educated workers, no more where they came from or how they got here

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:34 am

“That means Jessica Colotl isn’t taking a seat that should “rightly go to law abiding tax paying citizens””

Maybe, maybe not…but she definitely owes the University a lot of “back pay” for the out-of-state tuition she SHOULD have been paying all along if she didn’t lie in the first place.

quod erat demonstrandum

September 22nd, 2010
8:34 am

ctucker,

So you are saying that we can ignore the local talent and rely on the illegal getting a college degree.

granny givinumafreebie

September 22nd, 2010
8:35 am

Let them come to America from every land and every nation to attend free college. I notice the Bible say its their right.

JKL2

September 22nd, 2010
8:35 am

Arnold- foolishness first perpetrated by the Democrat Party during the 60’s

Who do you think is currently running the country? All those foolish radicals for the 60’s. There are putting all those crazy ideas into practice thru the Democratic party. It’s not hard to figure out why our country is in the shape it’s in.

Jimmy62

September 22nd, 2010
8:36 am

Instead of celebrating lawbreaking, and encouraging it, you guys should become activists to get the laws changed and allow in a much greater number of immigrants. Right now you are hypocrites who pick and choose which laws should be followed and which should be ignored. Shame on you! You don’t make anything better following that road, you just create more contempt for our laws and traditions. If you don’t like our laws, try to get them changed or move somewhere else. Isn’t there a law against aiding and abetting fugitives? And illegal immigrants are fugitives, thus by encouraging them, doesn’t that make you a lawbreaker?

I don’t mind if illegals go to school. I just don’t want my tax dollars to pay for it. If they are so smart, then they should be able to figure out a way to pay for it themselves.

Increase vastly the number of H1Bs allowed in. And stop the flow of illegals.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:36 am

quod@8:34, You know better. I have never — never — advocated that we “ignore the local talent.” My column last Sunday was about improving the high school graduation rate for native-born black males.

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:36 am

“This country needs more college-educated workers”

Yes, like Jessica who lied to get in-state tuition. :roll:

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:37 am

Jimmy62@8:36, Would you feel the same way about the DREAM Act if it only focused on allowing illegal immigrants to serve in the military?

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:38 am

grannynamejacker@8:35,
Is it OK if illegal immigrants serve in the military?

AFret

September 22nd, 2010
8:39 am

When is enough, enough? I believe se should educat our own first before spending tax dollars on illegals! Illegals get medical care that our own senior citizens are not eligible for. Food stamps, welfare, government housing, and now education? Many illegal imigrants draw benefits from more than one state. I guess we have educated illegals well enough on how to get around the system to gain more benefits. Cut the deficit of the United States!! Eliminate all spending for illegal imigrants! Ship them home and let them follow the laws of their country, then acquire the proper documentation for entry into ours.

Joey

September 22nd, 2010
8:39 am

Yes we need to repair our immigration laws. It is very difficult to immigrate into the US legally, but two things:
1. Every “Comprehensive Immigration Bill” proposed over the last 30 years has concentrated on making Illegal Residents into Legal Residents with little or no effort to make Legal Immigration less difficult.
2. Of all the Countries on all of the Continents on Earth the US is probably the easiest to enter legally, and we welcome Legal Residents with open arms.

Aquagirl

September 22nd, 2010
8:40 am

I say we overturn the 14th Amendment, so no one has a right to citizenship because they were born here. Then let’s start checking family trees—if you are the product of any irresponsible illegal immigrant ancestors, GO HOME. Then we can give the land back to Native Americans.

T-Town

September 22nd, 2010
8:41 am

“have exhibited good moral character”

Though Ms. Colotl may not have known she was in country illegally, she knew she didn’t have a valid DL, didn’t have insurance, and knew she was lying to the police officer. I guess we should give her a pass because she wanted to be a lawyer. So my question would be just what is “good moral character?”

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:42 am

Joey@8:39, Please define “little or no effort.” The bills I’ve seen require quite a bit of effort

JKL2

September 22nd, 2010
8:43 am

Much like the solution to the deficitis to stop spending first, the solution to illegal immigration has to be secure the borders first.

I’m not rushing to deport anyone, but I’m going to make sure they are being processed by the INS in some fashion before we start spending money on them. Sorry your parents came here illegally, but your still illegal. I would rather spend my money sending American kids to college first.

It’s like those poor inmates sitting on death row for 20 years. They might be great people now, but they still have to pay for their crime. The shame is it took so long to carry out their sentence. Same with illegal immigrants.

sara

September 22nd, 2010
8:43 am

How very Christian of America to ban immigrants from receiving a education. Pathetic.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:43 am

JKL2@8:43, Is it OK if illegal immigrants serve in the military?

Blue Man on a Red Island

September 22nd, 2010
8:44 am

Peadwag – So we peanlize the child for their parents actions and send them back to a country they have never been to when the alternative is allow them to serve in the military or continue their edcuation and help drive our economy into the future.

It’s not just about today man, we have to look down the road and see where we are going to be and what is best for this country. The more college educated citizens we have the better we can compete with China, India, etc to be leaders in new technology. It’s the only path to prosperity. In case you have n’t noticed we have already allowed China to take the lead on green technology. China is investing in their future in a way we are not. I’m not talking about $1 workers in a shoe factory, I’m talking about green technology we and the rest of the world will be buying from them for years to come if we don’t step it up.

The Dream Act is a win-win, and I might add, one of the few win-win pieces of legislation I have seen in a very, very long time from either party.

GSU Eagle 91

September 22nd, 2010
8:44 am

This is absolute nonsense, Cynthia…
We, meaning our country, owe NOTHING to others who cannot comply with our societal beliefs and rules…If they want to come to school here, then take the appropriate channels and they will be welcome. If not, they can stay where they are..
Student loans should also be given ONLY to those who are American citizens..
Wake up!

Jethro

September 22nd, 2010
8:45 am

A couple robs a bank, stashes the money away somewhere. They die; their kids find the money, start making plans to invest the money in a new business. The government somehow gets wind of it, ties the money to the crime, and confiscates.

Point is that the children cannot legally benefit from the criminal acts of the parents, which you are asking us to do Ms. Tucker. I have empathy for the children of illegal immigrants, but there are plenty of immigrants trying hard to enter this country the right way – and it should be difficult – and it’s not fair to bump these cheaters to the front of the line.

If you have a different argument, Ms. Tucker, I’ll be happy to listen to it. Until then, I cannot buy your argument to condone illegal behavior.

ctucker

September 22nd, 2010
8:45 am

GSU Eagle@8:44, Maybe you’ll be the first to answer this question: Is it OK for illegal immigrants to serve in the military?

quod erat demonstrandum

September 22nd, 2010
8:45 am

We only have to look to France for examples where illegals have gone wild.

One of the major stumbling blocks with Comprehensive Immigration Reform is the guaranteed path to citizenship. Rewarding bad behavior is not the way to curb illegal immigration.

Illegals should never be allowed a path to citizenship except through the normal channels.

Cynthia, I was just referring to your statement – @8:33

This country needs more college-educated workers, no more where they came from or how they got here

Peadawg

September 22nd, 2010
8:46 am

“I say we overturn the 14th Amendment, so no one has a right to citizenship because they were born here.”

I agree.