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.)