I think it’s time to come clean. For the past three-and-a-half years, I haven’t just been attending just any “law school in the Philadelphia area” — I’ve been attending school at Rutgers School of Law in tropical Camden, New Jersey. Whatever my reasoning was for keeping that tid-bit concealed from the general public, it doesn’t matter much anymore as barring any unforeseen circumstances I stand to graduate in May.
All in all, the legal education I have received in the night program at Rutgers has been very satisfactory, with a few exceptions, but the issue which has made me decide to come clean and disclose a little more about my personal life than originally planned has nothing to do with a problem with the school itself. Rutgers is just fine. It’s the state of New Jersey that I have a serious problem with.
As we speak, lawmakers in the Garden State are scrambling to send, to outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine’s office, a piece of legislation which would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities like Rutgers. Haste makes waste, of course, because the bill stands no chance of passage once now Governor-elect Chris Christie, a Republican, takes office on January 19 and has already insisted that any such legislation would die at his desk.
As of Tuesday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the bill has passed both the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee by narrow margins, and will have to pass in both the full Assembly and Senate before Corzine has a chance to make one last effort at sinking the same state which elected him in 2006 on lofty promises of fiscal responsibility and a common sense approach to governance.
After four years of Jon Corzine in office, however, the only thing New Jersey has a surplus in is stupid.
Thanks to Corzine and his propensity for killing growth through raising already astronomical taxes, New Jersey will see a $10 billion budget deficit this year as Chris Christie takes office. From a purely financial standpoint, allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at state institutions of higher learning just doesn’t make much sense. Considering, however, that New Jersey residents already pay an estimated $1.85 billion each year for K-12 education for the children of illegal immigrants–who make up an estimated 11.7 percent of all public school students in the state–perhaps Garden State democrats feel that footing the bill for higher education tuition benefits is just a drop in the bucket.
The total cost of illegal immigration in the state of New Jersey for medical care, education and incarceration alone tops $2.1 billion, and even that number is nothing when compared with the overall cost to the entire nation of maintaining New Jersey as a magnet for illegal immigration as a whole. Providing tuition benefits to the children of people who shouldn’t even be in the country in the first place is no different than the “sanctuary city” policies maintained by cities like San Francisco and New York City, or scholarship programs like the ones championed by former Gov. Mike Huckabee during his tenure in Arkansas; these people cross the desert and overstay visas for a reason, they know that in certain cities they can live their lives with a relative lack of worry about deportation, and in certain states they know they’ll be able to educate their children despite running afoul of federal law. In 2004, the cost of illegal immigration for California alone was estimated at $10.5 billion per year — a whopping $1,200 per native-born family.
We cannot stem the tide of illegal immigration and the costs which come along with it here in the United States of America unless we erect physical fences along our borders, enforce immigration laws already in place, and shut down magnets like this inevitable legislation in New Jersey. Until we do, tens of billions of dollars each year which could go to educating American children and the children of legal immigrants are instead being spent on those who have such little respect for American law that they bypassed legal routes for entry.
Furthermore, on a more personal level, it’s just not fair to students who choose to attend New Jersey state schools from out-of-state — myself included. By the time I graduate in May and begin studying for the South Carolina bar exam in advance of the July test dates, I will have racked up roughly $150,000 in student loan debt. With the difference in tuition for in-state versus out-of-state students being approximately $10,000 each year, I could have saved about $40,000 if I had only been the child of illegal immigrants residing in New Jersey.
It’s absolutely, mind-numbingly insane. I live in the United States of America legally, while these people are breaking the law simply by being here. I pay more than my fair share in taxes, while these people do nothing of the sort. Yet those who break the law and pay nothing into the system reap all the reward.
The Inquirer tells the sappy, sentimental stories of children of illegal immigrants who feel as though their dreams and aspirations have been stunted, how reduced tuition rates will alone be the difference between finding potential and working minimum wage jobs. It’s sad. It really is. But to advance those costs onto decent, law-abiding American families who reside and pay taxes in New Jersey–and boy, do they pay taxes in New Jersey–is fundamentally inequitable, as is the additional burden which will be placed on my own family. We struggle each and every month to put food on the table. That $40,000 benefit being extended to illegal immigrants would have made for a nice college fund for my daughter.
Frankly, I’m tired of it. The entitlement society has gone too far. Not only can Americans now expect to have health care provided to them for free at the expense of those who pay extra for decent health coverage, not only can they expect their mortgages to be modified and their credit card rates slashed at the expense of those who are fiscally responsible and pay bills on time, but now non-Americans, people who willingly bypassed legal channels for entry into the United States of America, can expect to attend American institutions of higher learning at a reduced rate not available to many hard-working, tax-paying, families who choose to abide by the law.
Yet the Democrats in New Jersey and across the nation still don’t seem to get it. They still cannot discern the fundamental difference between right and wrong, between legal and illegal. In the Inquirer piece, for example, we see Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle from Bergen County saying that “[t]his country is based on immigrants and the American dream,” and that New Jersey lawmakers aren’t “giving anything away” but rather are only “making it equal for students to be able to achieve education.” She couldn’t be more out of touch. Yes, this country was indeed based on immigrants seeking the American dream — but they were legal immigrants, people like my great-great-grandfather who came here from Lithuania, or my wife’s own grandmother who came here from Poland. They went through the right channels, they didn’t skulk around in the shadows, trying to keep quiet so as not to alert Border Patrol agents on all-terrain vehicles. There’s a difference, and it’s that fundamental difference between right and wrong that these people simply don’t seem to understand.
And it’s only going to get worse. In the spring, we’re going to be debating legislation on a national scale designed to grant amnesty to the 15 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently living in the United States of America. Come to America, but don’t tell anybody. Break our laws, but be confident that nobody cares. Take our jobs, fill our emergency rooms, pack our prisons, consume our resources and, by all means, allow for decent, law-abiding taxpayers to foot the bill for reduced tuition rates for your children.
In the meantime, I’m out $40,000.