Thursday, December 23, 2010

Utah State Rep. Carl Wimmer Files HB191, "Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments", To Deny Illegal Immigrants In-State Tuition Rates At State Universities

Utah State Representative Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) has firmed up his credentials as an opponent of illegal immigration. On December 22nd, 2010, Wimmer pre-filed HB191, which would deny residents of the state of Utah who are also illegal immigrants the option of paying tuition at state universities at the lower in-state rate.

-- Read the text of HB191 HERE.

The bill is entitled "Nonresident Tuition Waiver Amendments", and repeals an exemption from the nonresident portion of total tuition within the state system of higher education. Specific sections of Utah Code to be amended include 53B-13a-102 and 63G-11-104; it would completely repeal Utah Code 53B-8-106.

Rep. Wimmer believes it's about fairness. “Many of them will still go to college — they’ll just have to pay the full rate,” Wimmer said. “It’s fundamentally unfair that an American-born citizen from Evanston, Wyo., would have to pay more to go the University of Utah than an illegal immigrant. It’s fundamentally flawed.” Of course, one commenter replied that the prospective Wyoming student could get an in-state tuition rate by attending school in Wyoming, but the larger premise is that an illegal immigrant should never obtain a better benefit than an American citizen or legal resident from any state, period. In-state tuition rates are generally one-third of out-of-state rates.

One opponent of Wimmer's bill tries to use a slippery slope argument to justify her position. Antonella Packard, a Utah-based Republican DREAM Act activist, claims that Wimmer’s proposal is a mistake because taxpayers are already mandated by Federal law to educate undocumented students through high school, that we should go ahead and educate them at in-state rates in our universities. But Wimmer's bill does not deny them a college education -- it merely specifies that they must pay out-of-state tuition rates. To give them in-state rates implicitly rewards unlawful behavior, even if the behavior was the result of their parents bringing them to the U.S. when they were younger.

HB191 is a good companion bill to Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Act", which as of this post is still "in process" and has not received a numeric designation yet.

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