Representative Carl Wimmer introduced H.B. 191 to a house committee this past Friday. H.B. 191 seeks to end in-state tuition for undocumented students. This bill will have little real effect on immigration issue and it marginalizes a group of innocent people.
Rep. Wimmer initially ran for his seat based on improving children’s educational opportunities. I would like to thank Representative Wimmer for his strong position on education as education is an important component in the stability and progression of the world economy and our home country. I believe like Representative Wimmer that children’s educational opportunities are important for all human kind not just “our own kind”
HB 191 seeks to make it difficult for qualified undocumented children to receive a higher education, due to the economic challenges HB 191 will present if in-state tuition for undocumented students is repealed. When I asked a young man at East High in the AP Art Program what his college plans were, he responded “I don’t really have plans [to go to college] because my 4.0 isn’t going to do me any good.” Before that response I had no idea the challenge this young man was facing through no fault of his own.
The hardworking student is not the problem. The federal government is the problem. I ask all of you don’t be complicit on that problem.
Our government due to its egregious lack of action since 1986 to implement sound immigration policy, is what has created the situation we are in today. HB 191 seeks to not only punish the wrong faction of our society, but also seeks to limit their opportunities and thereby create an under-educated and idle population.
Utah’s legislative body should not indirectly punish the children of the parents who brought them here illegally. Many of the undocumented students who graduate from US high schools have been living in the country for five years or more and have already strengthened their lives through our great public school system. By providing a path to affordable education, students can train for careers, find jobs and become taxpaying citizens.
In 2002 the Utah Legislature had passed legislation that allowed undocumented students to qualify for instate tuition as long as they attended 3 years of high school and planned on becoming legal citizens. Which was a great piece of legislation brought for from forward thinking lawmakers.
According to a recent report by the American Association for State Colleges and Universities, a “large portion of undocumented alien students are likely to remain in the United States, whether or not they have access to postsecondary education. Accordingly, it would seem to be in states’ economic and fiscal interests to promote at least a basic level of education beyond high school to alien students, to increase their contribution to economic growth while reducing the prospect of dependence on public/community assistance” (AASCU 2005). Students with a degree are more productive, less likely to need government assistance, and help to maintain a strong state economy (National Immigration Law Center 2005a).
According to Utah Commissioner of Higher Education, William Sederburg, “Even though this [in-state tuition] program affects only a few hundred  students throughout the state, we’re supportive of anything that helps students get a higher education who wouldn’t otherwise have that opportunity.”
Education has a crucial role in the cultivation of our society and in sustaining our political and cultural heritage. America is the mother of freedom and democracy and has instilled those values within every child educated by our system. The few hundred students that will be affected by this legislation salute the American flag and most have pledged to that same flag their entire life and believe in the values that motivated their parents to break the law and bring them here. It would be simply cruel to make it more difficult to obtain an education in the country they love. The deprivation of education takes an inestimable toll on the social, economic, intellectual, and psychological well-being of individuals and poses an obstacle to individual achievement. So I urge all of you to contact your elected officials and ask them to vote NO in advancing this specific legislation.
I would like to and with this quote from one of our founding father, “An education is the investment with the greatest returns.” –Benjamin Franklin