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My Turn: For tuition purposes, treat all state residents alike

To Dover Rep. Peter Schmidt: I am writing to commend you for introducing House Bill 474 to extend in-state tuition in our university system to all New Hampshire residents regardless of immigration status. The pursuit of higher education by all New Hampshire residents is a worthy goal deserving of wide support.

HB 474, approved yesterday by the House, has much to recommend it:

1. Until recent years, immigration status was not a part of New Hampshire higher education applications. We should restore the status quo ante.

2. As a lawyer deeply involved in immigration law, I know that the trend in other states is to extend in-state tuition benefits to all residents, including undocumented residents. The most recent example is New Jersey where Gov. Chris Christie signed such a law for New Jersey residents.

3. The federal government, under its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, now prohibits deportation of young persons who came to the United States with their parents and who find themselves out of status through no fault of their own. Under DACA, these young people are now entitled to a Social Security number, work authorization and, under New Hampshire law, a driver’s license. It is a logical extension to allow them in-state tuition as well.

4. If we are not going to deport them, likewise we should not penalize them for wanting to get a higher education, the same as any other New Hampshire resident.

5. We do not discriminate against New Hampshire youngsters based on immigration status attending New Hampshire elementary or high schools. We should not do so at the college level either.

6. Finally, in the category of unintended consequences, it should be New Hampshire policy to have the best educated and most highly skilled work force – both to enhance New Hampshire’s position in the global marketplace and also to encourage all our residents to be productive, taxpaying contributors. This promotes the vaunted New Hampshire Advantage in a competitive environment and enhances the quality of life for all New Hampshire residents.

I heartily endorse your efforts and forward thinking.

(George Bruno of Manchester was U.S. ambassador to Belize from 1994 to 1997.)

Legacy Comments6

"highly skilled work force"....problem is - it is against the LAW to hire an illegal alien. Then..... why in the world would we want to pay hard earned real American Taxpayers money to educate an illegal alien that cannot legally be hired?. I wonder which part democrats don't understand - ILLEGAL or ALIEN?

Jim, In what other ways do we punish children for the actions of their parents? Should we apply the no Federal Financial Aid rule to all children whose parents have drug offenses? Should children of lawyers and doctors who have been disbarred also not be allowed to join the profession? If you want to show outrage at something perhaps you should advocate that our immigration system be fixed so that people who want to come here and contribute to society can do so within a reasonable amount of time. These folks aren't going away, I for one would rather have them be educated and contributing to society than living in the shadows. Part of this bill already makes them sign up to be on the path to citizenship which in effect would give them resident status.

Agreed. Well said.

concerned_in_concord - I have no problem with "legal" immigration. Regan gave amnesty in 1986 to millions and a law saying it was illegal to hire a person here illegally. Everybody got rewarded for breaking the law and companies now hire illegals without a hesitation. If the US again shows it will just let everyone become a citizen then it just encourages more to come illegally next year. Immigration laws don't need to be fixed - they need to be INFORCED.

POINT 5 - there is the root of the problem. First the state looks the other way for lower school admission and now it wants to look the other way for higher education. They are not US or NH citizens. They chose to come illegally and did not register - they are not entitled to any benefits of being a citizen. It's not the children's fault it is the parents fault - so the children can be mad at their parents for cheating. All this does is encourage more to come here illegally.

I agree. We should treat all "residents" alike. Illegal aliens aren't "residents." If you're here on a work or school visa, or have refugee status, that's one thing. If you're "undocumented", that's quite another.

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