NILC's Basic "Facts" about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students

The National Immigration Law Center offers a misleading report called "Basic Facts about In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students", last revised February 2009:

1. They say:

...section 505 of the Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Reconciliation Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) prohibits states from providing any higher education benefit based on residency to undocumented immigrants unless they provide the same benefit to U.S. citizens in the same circumstances, regardless of their residence. As discussed above, the ten states that have provided in-state tuition to most of their undocumented immigrant residents have fully complied with this provision... It is often stated that these states are "getting around" the federal law, or that they are taking advantage of a "loophole" in the federal law. This is slanted language. The law is very specific. It does not preclude states from providing in-state tuition to undocumented residents of the state so long as nonresidents in similar circumstances also qualify. The states that have passed in-state tuition laws are complying with this law, not getting around it.

That's extraordinarily disingenuous, and only someone trying to mislead would pretend that those state laws aren't crafted in such a way as to get around the federal law. The "similar circumstances" a nonresident would have to comply with would include things such as attending a highschool in that state for a few years; long before that time was up they would have been a resident. The NILC is setting up an extremely unlikely-to-be-met requirement for an out-of-state U.S. citizen to be able to take part in the same program.

2. In a like manner, they try to mislead about the fact that any college benefits going to an illegal alien are those taken away from a U.S. citizen:

Where state proposals have been defeated, anti-immigrant forces have scored rhetorical points by highlighting the competition between immigrants and other applicants for scarce higher education dollars. It should be remembered that the numerical impact of in-state tuition is minimal: Less than 2 percent of this year’s graduating class are undocumented immigrants, and only a fraction of these will attend college even if they are able to pay the in-state rate. In most states, we are talking about only a few dozen or a few hundred particularly talented students. The shortage of education dollars is real, but it is patently unfair to burden motivated and highachieving immigrant youth with this responsibility. Education quickly pays for itself. It is a benefit to society, not just to those who go to school. And it strongly behooves us to fund education sufficiently so that all who are qualified may complete their education. Holding back immigrant students is the wrong way to boost the ambitions of others.

Nowhere in there do they address the simple mathematical fact that U.S. citizens are harmed by these laws, with some being unable to go to college. They simply say the impact is minimal, they do not say there is no impact, because they can't unless they're going to just outright lie.


don't tell me its for the children?