There is a bipartisan push in Tallahassee to pass legislation that would grant in-state tuition — or an equivalent tuition discount — to illegal immigrants. As a fiscal conservative, I disagree with the ideology, intent, and rationale of HB 851 and SB 1400.
Many children of military personnel stationed in Florida are not eligible for in-state tuition benefits.
Providing this type of subsidization to illegal immigrants, while denying it to families of men and women who risk their lives to defend our nation is shameful and wrong.
The legislation’s supporters argue that granting in-state tuition to illegal immigrants would increase their access to higher education. This is a fallacy. Currently, on average, out-of-state tuition at Florida’s 28 state colleges is less than in-state tuition at the 12 state universities after factoring in housing and fees.
Further, Florida cannot afford this expense. In 2001, Texas passed similar legislation. According to The Lone Star Foundation, in two years, the number of illegal immigrants receiving in-state tuition had more than doubled, while the cost to the state had exceeded $50 million. It would be irresponsible to place this kind of burden on the backs of Florida’s taxpayers.
Finally, it would be unfair for the state to subsidize tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for each illegal immigrant while denying these seats to U.S. citizens. Worse, once these students graduate, they would not have the opportunity for legal employment, according to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 signed by President Ronald Reagan. Under this law, employers are forbidden from hiring illegal immigrants.
During these financially difficult times, legislators’s focus should be on the hard-working, taxpaying and legal citizens of Florida. HB 851 and SB 1400 may be the first step toward granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in Florida and, as such, I oppose it.
John Tobia, state representative, District 53, Melbourne Beach