Illinois helped to groom Barack Obama, and we will never be able to atone for the damage done. Those of us foolish enough to live in the Land of Lincoln thought we had trumped every state in the nation when it comes to our flagrant disregard for taxpayers. 2011 brought us a retroactive income tax hike that helped fund a multibillion-dollar pension payment for over entitled public employees. We were also blessed with the Illinois DREAM Act (see: Illinois DREAM Act: Smarter Illegals, Better Frauds?), giving illegal immigrants another reason to stay in our state, and correcting any confusion over who and what really matters to those paid to represent the public interest in Springfield.
At least Illinois had the decency to use private money for its DREAM Act scholarships, only requiring taxpayers to foot the bill for the rest of public education for illegal immigrants. California has decided that its sizeable illegal population is eligible for taxpayer-funded college financial aid. The new perk will not begin until 2013, so illegal immigrants who do not already have their kids in school have time to plan ahead, to make sure they qualify for benefits.
There is one small hitch in California’s plans. All is not gold in the Golden State. The $14.5 million estimated cost of this new benefit is a lot of money when you are broke, and have received billions in federal assistance funded by every taxpayer in the nation. We propped up California’s budget during the financial crisis, handing the state $85 billion through the Recovery Act,1 and should be furious that we will likely help out with our federal tax dollars so the state’s illegal immigrants can afford college.
It is easy to overlook public handouts to illegals because the issue is cast as one of fairness, not overstressed budgets. DREAM Act promoter Arne Duncan, overseer of an expanding federal education empire, has referred to education as the “civil rights issue of our generation.”2 Duncan not only endorses the fairness argument, he argues that schooling illegals will make us prosperous:
First, it’s an issue of fairness. Thousands of young people have worked hard. But they are being denied the chance to build a better future for themselves and to contribute their skills, talents, and creativity to the country.
Second, it’s an issue of economic prosperity. By offering these young people the chance to earn a college degree, we are helping them establish their own economic security. And, in the process, they will help sustain America’s economic competitiveness into the future.3
There are those of us who do not believe that spending is ever a good solution to being broke. Illinois lawmakers argued that no public money was used for their DREAM Act, forgetting who pays the rest of the tab for the public school system. Tax dollars continue to find their way to illegal immigrants who, instead of being deported, are offered incentives to remain (see: New Immigration Policy Could Force Us to Overlook Fraud). If the super committee wants to save a few dollars, they can begin by cutting aid to states that reward illegal immigration. The $14.5 million that California plans to spend on financial aid can easily be withheld from federal handouts, and be used to hire ICE agents instead. This should please the president. His jobs bill may be a loser, but there are other ways he can fund government jobs.
Alabama is already proving what happens when schools have the effrontery to question immigration status. lllegals leave. Classrooms empty, even while state and federal lawmakers come up with new reasons for them to stay. Congress needs to hear from voters that anyone who supports rewarding illegal immigrants will join the ranks of the unemployed next fall. California’s law requires that students are on a path to citizenship before they can qualify for financial aid, but the only path illegals should be on is a path out of the U.S. If they want to attend our schools, they can get their papers first. Otherwise, forget education. We need to go back to deportation.