Immigration issues have been on the public policy agenda over the last few years. In the Nytimes.com article, “In New Jersey, Bills Offering In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrants Face a Fight,” the recent bills that would provide in-state tuition at public colleges for illegal immigrants who attended at least 3 years of high school within the state. This bill as brought much controversy from opposing sides, and is unlikely to pass in an election year. However, there is still hope, because it has the backing of Governor Corzine and other states including New York have passed similar legislation. It will be a tough battle though because the Governor and entire Assembly is up for reelection this year and the recession has the public more focused on helping the middle class and a negative feeling towards illegal immigrants.
Both sides have well rounded arguments and should make a good debate. Proponents of the bill stress that it will lead to a more educated workforce that New Jersey will need to boost our economy. It is not these children’s fault for being here illegally, and they should not be punished for what their parents have done. If they excel and push themselves in high school, we should give them the same chance to succeed in college. Most illegal immigrants drop out of high school because they know how little their chances are at affording college, this bill would help foster a more determined and educated work force to take on the challenges of tomorrow in the state. Those on the other side claim that we should be focusing our energy on the middle class during this recession. By giving illegal immigrants the same rights as state citizens we would be taking away spots in our college for actual residents and loosing valuable income. They feel we do not owe anything to these people and that exceptions should not be made since they are illegal immigrants.
In all, I believe legislation like this is important. Yes, we are in a recession but we can’t forget about all other public policy issues. There are an estimated 28,000 illegal immigrants in the New Jersey public schools and New Jersey has one of the top foreign-born populations. We need to help these kids become better students and help them succeed. By giving them the right tools and the right outlets they could be the future doctors, scientists and lawyers that help create and shape a better New Jersey.