Back in 2006, the voting residents in Arizona approved a referendum by an overwhelming margin – 71 to 29 percent, to be exact – that forbid students who could not prove legal residency from being classified as so-called “in-state students,” which would grant those students access to federal and state financial aid and in-state tuition. Those voters were making a firm statement in favor of fairness: Arizonan sons and daughters should receive the benefits Arizonan mothers and fathers paid for, not children whose parents did not contribute to the shared ideal of higher education.
Now, nine years later, the Arizona Board of Regents has reversed that policy – the preference of the people – and is now allowing illegal alien students to pay the lower tuition rates of in-state students, as opposed to the higher non-resident tuition rates. In effect, students who aren’t from America, let alone Arizona, will be granted lower tuition rates than a girl born in Arizona but grew up in California who now wants to attend Arizona State University. On its face, this is a joke at best and a tragic unfairness at worst.
Of course, this goes beyond just fairness. This is also simply bad policy as it will incentivize more illegals to commit the crime of crossing the United States border without sanction. The difference in rates between in-state and out-of-state tuition is in the thousands of dollars. For instance, in-state students at Arizona State University pay around $10,000 per year. Out-of-state students pay about $25,000 per year. This is a large sum that will now tell illegals that Arizona is the state to settle in, the state whose residents are willing to foot the bill for their children’s education.
This misstep might have been prevented were it not for an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2012. The act granted illegal aliens work authorization along with many other benefits as long as they qualify for what is called DACA – or deferred action as childhood arrivals – and are under the age of 31. The market for counterfeit birth certificates predictably swelled at the news as there is no other way to verify the age of claimants.
The President’s actions, then, filtered down into the lives of ordinary Arizonans merely trying to make a living for themselves and their children. Haughtily, Superior Court Judge Arthur Anderson opined that it is “[Obama’s] federal law, not state law, [that] determines who is lawfully present in the United States” and thus Arizonans are now beholden to non-citizens who the President decided are more important than actual citizens, deserving of benefits many Americans do without and manage for themselves.
This has been the common debate of this President’s administration: the sharp division between entitlement and personal responsibility. The argument of the latter camp is simple: How can one learn to manage their own affairs when others must do for them what they refuse to do for themselves? How is that the America we grew up in?