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SB 742: Tuition Equity?

There is much debate in the state of Oregon about Senate Bill 742, which “Provides that certain students are entitled to exemption from nonresident tuition and fees at state institutions of higher education.” These “certain students” are illegal immigrants and children of illegal immigrants who went to high school or achieved a high school diploma (or the equivalent) in Oregon, and “exemption from nonresident tuition and fees” means in-state tuition.

The legislation has passed the Oregon Senate, making its way to the Oregon House Rules Committee. A public hearing was held this week, where a large group of people came to testify on both sides of the aisle. From the Oregonian:

The hearing drew a packed crowd that spilled into two other hearing rooms and the Capitol hallways, where they could watch it on television. A total of 23 people testified in support of the bill, including Susan Castillo, state superintendent of public instruction; Jim Francesconi, vice president of the State Board of Higher Education; business owners, students and several legislators.

Francesconi said all of the university presidents and the entire state board support the bill. Based on a study of other states with similar laws, university officials project the bill would bring only a handful of illegal students into Oregon universities – about 33 to 39 a year, climbing to about 60 a year by 2016-17. […]

Another 22 people spoke against the bill. They included members of immigration reform groups, retired military men, and many Salem residents. Many of them argued the law would cost the state thousands, even millions, of dollars in lost tuition.

“I’d like to dub this bill the feel-good flop for this session,” said Cynthia Kendall of Salem. “Everyone wants to feel like they are doing something good for the children of illegal aliens. …The Oregon citizen, the Oregon college student and the Oregon taxpayer are getting the shaft.”

There have also been a slew of letters in the Oregon Daily Emerald in support of and in opposition to the bill, including ones written by UO administration and ASUO officials. The first one, co-signed by University President Richard Lariviere and ASUO President-elect Ben Eckstein (yeah, probably the last time that’ll happen), shows strong support for the bill:

Students who would benefit from this legislation are successful and high-achieving students who have inherited circumstances outside of their control. Just as we are working toward a brighter future for Oregon, students who would benefit from SB 742 are working to build on the investment the state has made in them. With affordable access to higher education, they will strengthen Oregon’s communities and contribute to the state’s economy.

ASUO Vice President-elect Katie Taylor also gave her two cents, drawing on her personal experience (which, in my opinion, is fairly unrelated, but so long as it makes her feel good):

As an undergraduate student and incoming vice president of the ASUO, I think it is absurd that a person can live in the state of Oregon practically their entire life and then be charged out-of-state tuition. I myself was not born in Oregon; I became a resident before I attended college and was charged in-state tuition.

As a working-class student, I am thankful that I am able to more easily afford to go to school, and undocumented students that have grown up in Oregon deserve as least this much. Furthermore, I know my college experience is enhanced by the diversity of students who attend my school. We should be working towards finding ways to increase this diversity, not decrease it. So with that, I am calling out to all students and community members to support SB 742 and call our representatives to ask them to do the same.

The only letter in opposition to the bill was written by UO undergraduate Adam Marcus, whose opposition — focused on the financial burden on the state — seems only a tiny bit misguided, but makes a good point:

In what namesake is this a level of equality? The in-state tuition is supported by the taxpayers of this great state, so it essentially boils down to the rest of us to carry the fiscal burden of another classification of students.

And did no one read the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996? It clearly states that “no U.S. state entity will offer benefits to Illegal Aliens not available to all legal residents of the United States.” This means that if there should be an exemption of in-state tuition to this illegal populous, it would have to allow a student-resident of Iowa in for the same price. Call me crazy, but that is a rather big mistake there.

I find this proposition of equality a clouded bias towards a temporary fiscal spike that would end up dragging the Oregon economy even further into recession. The clause of these applicants “demonstrating their intent to be permanently domicile in Oregon” is a conglomeration of fancy words intended to take away from the real issue. Illegal immigrants pay no taxes because they are exempt from the system. Why should we citizens support those who don’t contribute their portion to the society?

He does have a point. In a state with no sales tax — somewhat of an equalizer in determining who is paying taxes compared to Oregon’s current state — those who own property and have higher (taxed) income are paying a greater portion into the state coffers, the situation exists where legal citizens are bankrolling the lives of illegals. The federal DREAM act seems to be facing similar opposition.

Anyone who wants to be a citizen of the United States should be able to become one. Legal immigration should be much easier than it is. But should we really give greater allowances to illegal immigrants that United States citizens? In order to become an Oregon resident and achieve in-state tuition, an American from another state needs to work for a year (taxable income) and establish a home in Oregon. He or she cannot be a full-time student. And even when he or she has achieved this year of working in Oregon, there is no guarantee that he or she can become an Oregon resident for tuition purposes — it’s up to UO Admissions.

Is this legislation fair to the hard-working non-resident UO students who would now not only be footing the bill for in-state residents but also illegal immigrants? I’m going to say no. That’s not tuition equity I can believe in.

  1. Cameron says:

    @Lyzi, would you want to stay in California? I’m just sayin’…

  2. Lyzi Diamond says:

    I have a question. Why have in-state and out-of-state tuition at all if everyone can become an in-state student so easily?

    On a similar note, why has the number of Californians been rising so extensively over the last couple years?

    Really, just curious.

  3. Tim! says:

    @86emmm: Gross. Learn to format, spell, and punctuate properly please.

    @magyart: I’m not interesting in ‘fighting’ illegal immigration. Sounds too much like xenophobia. Most illegal immigrants are here because America offers a dream of a better life than does their country of origin, most work really hard at important jobs you don’t want to do, and many are abused by their traffickers. Where are the organizations I can contact to help encourage legal immigration?

  4. brad says:

    Lyzi, where is your response to the points brought up by Jacob, George, and V’mort?

  5. zstarmac says:

    ‘Minimal impact’ on State budget:

  6. V'mort says:

    Except for the part where you said you don’t have to work, which you do unless your parents move to Oregon.

  7. George says:

    Okay 8 credits or 6 credits (I said 6 because that is what I thought, but it has been a while since I looked into this) the point I was trying to make is the same. Actually 8 credits or less makes it even easier to become a resident. I feel like we are making the same point, so that is all that matters.

  8. V'mort says:

    George, those facts seem to have come from your ass.

    The requirement is eight or fewer credits, not six or fewer. I became an Oregon resident after taking two successive eight-credit terms.

    Technically it is true that you don’t have to work for a year in Oregon, but only technically. You do have to achieve “financial dependence on an Oregon resident.” In practice, that basically means you can also get residency if your parents, upon whom you are financially dependent, establish a domicile in Oregon, even if you don’t have a job — a friend of mine got resident tuition that way. But the vast majority of people demonstrate that they are earning their primary income in Oregon.

    In practice, what the requirement really means is that, if you are a UO student and want to become an in-state student, you need to drop down to half-time status and get a job.

    Getting back to Lyzi’s point, it’s already been well-established that your central argument is fallacious: that the bill gives undocumented Oregon high school grads any avenue to in-state tuition that it denies to out-of-state students.

    If what you are against is double standards, you should support tuition equity. The existing situation is a double standard: If you come from a different state, but graduate from an Oregon high school, you can still get in-state tuition. If you come from a different state, but work for a year without going to school more than half time, you can get in-state tuition. You can do neither of those things if you are undocumented.

  9. George says:

    Also, there is no law that says you have to work a year to become a resident in Oregon. You just cannot be taking more than 6 college credits at a time for at least a year and you must have proof that you have lived here for that long. It could be simply registering to vote as soon as you move to Oregon, and then waiting a year to take more than 6 credits.

    The argument that Tuition Equity gives undocumented students an advantage over students with documentation is not valid. Most of these undocumented students we are taking about here have lived in Oregon for many years, graduate from Oregon high schools, and are still charged out-of-state tuition. On the other hand, it is fairly easy for a U.S. citizen to move to our of state and become a resident. I feel as if that was the point Vice President-elect Taylor was trying to make through her own experience although you seem to discredit her here.

  10. George says:

    Ugh, you all are disgusting.

  11. magyart says:

    An illegal alien resident of Oregon, even if his parents paid taxes, is NOT deserving of in state tuition. Citizenship is more than mere residency.

    Visit NumbersUSA and ALIPAC websites and help fight illegal immigration.

  12. 86emmm says:

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    Visit- AmericanPatrol.c – OutRagedPatriots.c !
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  13. Jacob says:

    Good points, but you your last point kind of jumps the rails. In order to become a resident, yes, a nonresident must move here and work for a year. But that’s exclusive to nonminors; nonresidents become residents all the time by moving here as minors and completing their high school programs in the state of Oregon. Which is exactly what is being suggested for the children of illegal immigrants. So the requirements of the IRA are being observed: any minor who moves to Oregon and completes an Oregon diploma will acheive resident status *no matter their origin*.

    There are also issues about framing illegal immigrants as non-taxpayers (for the most part they still have paycheck witholdings yet lack the standing to file for returns), but that’s not really the argument here. The equity for Oregon diploma-holders is what’s the issue.

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