After slamming hapless residents with a retroactive income tax hike at the start of the year, legislators in famously indigent Illinois have come up with a plan to fund college for illegal immigrants. Co-sponsored by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, the Illinois DREAM Act would use private money to send undocumented students to college. To make sure that illegal immigrants make it to class every day, the bill also allows illegals to obtain driver’s certificates.
An April 30, 2011 rally in Chicago was attended by Cullerton and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the same folks who joined with Governor Pat Quinn to shove the New Year’s tax hike down state taxpayers’ throats. Illinois already gifts its illegal population with resident tuition rates. That benefit was signed into law in 2003 by ex-governor turned media celebrity on trial, Rod Blagojevich. Offering reduced tuition rates did not provide a means of paying for school, so the Illinois DREAM Act claims to solve the problem with non-public funding.
Illinois DREAM Act proponents declare that the bill does not use taxpayer funds to pay for illegals’ educations, ignoring the fact that public colleges and universities are taxpayer-supported institutions. Facilities have to be maintained. Instructors and administrators have to be paid. The heat has to be kept on in winter. Until legislators come up with a cost-free mechanism for providing a college education, illegal immigrants will be attending school on the public dime regardless of who pays their tuition.
Billions in federal education funds go to our states. The Recovery Act doled out close to $100 billion, last year’s Education Jobs and Medicaid Act cost us $26 billion, and the money continues to flow. Federal tax dollars are truly non-discriminatory. Everyone’s money goes into the same pot, so everyone pays when states make bad decisions and show up on Uncle Sam’s doorstep with their hands out.
Permitting illegal immigrants to attend taxpayer-supported schools would be less vexing if we were not continually subjected to whining and hand wringing over school funding by the same officials who push for these unwarranted handouts. Ex-Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan, now our Secretary of Education, claims that public colleges are in trouble:
Yet despite the unprecedented federal support for community colleges, the financial pinch on community colleges today is brutal—and it is unlikely to fade anytime soon.¹
Duncan was a big supporter of a federal DREAM Act, lauding the achievements of illegal immigrants while forgetting that their K-12 educations were paid for with public money:
The students of the DREAM Act are some of the country’s best and brightest. They were raised and educated in America. They are valedictorians, star athletes, community leaders, and are active in their faith. They text and go to the mall. They are Americans in every sense of the word.²
Our president has told us repeatedly that tax rates for higher earners must be raised because letting them keep more of their incomes diverts money from the middle class. The same logic applies to education funding. Tax dollars are used to support public schools, so allowing illegal immigrants to attend public colleges, especially at resident tuition rates, is a diversion of resources from our citizens. Taxpayers should have zero tolerance for states that encourage illegal immigration by offering resident tuition and financial assistance. For a state as destitute as Illinois to even consider such a proposal is unconscionable, because when the money runs out, every one of us has to pay.