Are U.S. Colleges Supporting Illegal Students at the Expense of Americans?
Fox News recently revealed that some U.S. colleges are providing direct financial subsidies to students who are in the country illegally. This has broadened the debate about fairness at a time when American students are faced with rising college tuition costs.
Such opportunities have opened up since President Obama’s 2012 executive action that deferred deportation to millions of young people brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents. However, they still are largely ineligible for state or federal student aid.
New York University — which receives federal, state and city money — says the aid given to illegal immigrants is not at the expense of American students.
“This is not taking away from anybody,” MJ Knoll-Finn, an N.Y.U. admissions officer, told The New York Times, which first reported the story. “This is a formalized way of making sure these students know they’re welcome.”
However, others disagree.
“This policy not only encourages new illegal immigration, but comes at the expense of the college dreams of young Americans,” Stephen Miller, spokesman for Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on immigration and the national interest, told FoxNews.com on Saturday.
Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Times that such funding has a “zero-sum aspect to it.”
“The fact is, there is not an unlimited pot of money to help needy students or high-achieving low-income students. And there is a certain one-for-one, a crowding-out effect,” he said.
NYU received at least $310 million in federal money in 2012, in addition to state and city grants, according to the school’s website.
In addition, school President John Sexton has put the NYU community’s support behind a budget proposal by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo to give financial aid to illegal immigrants.
“Expanding educational opportunities for immigrant youth not only helps individual students,” Sexton wrote Cuomo in a Feb. 7 letter. “It helps entire communities, states and the nation as a whole.”
The New York legislature on Thursday pass a so-called DREAM Act, which would make illegal immigrants eligible for state tuition breaks and college savings plan. But the measure will face strong opposition from state Senate Republicans in the budget negotiations.
The battle is similar to those in Washington and across the county.
Congressional Republicans nearly shut down the Department of Homeland Security this week by trying to tie a funding bill to efforts to roll back Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Congress late Friday passed a last-minute bill, signed by the president, to fund the agency. But the funding is for just seven days, and the battle will resume next week.
Earlier this month, a Texas federal court judge temporarily halted Obama’s executive action. The Justice Department requested the judge lift the stay, and if he declines, the administration will advance the case to a federal appeals court.
Some colleges do admit the financial aid for illegal students comes from the same pool of money set aside to help American students, but they say their actions are warranted in the interest of increasing student body diversity on campuses.
President Daniel R. Porterfield of Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania says the school has increased the aid it offers illegal students since the 2012 executive order that created DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Other states, such as California and Texas, support illegal immigrant students by providing them with lower cost, in-state tuition.