That's a lot of information, so I'm going to break it down piece by piece and explain why it's the wrong measure for Arizona.
Word around campus is that our favorite network, Fox News, will be covering this issue in a major way. Apparently they may be recruiting students for sound bites. If not this week, than it will probably be next week around Thursday when our Student Regent (and one of the most respected men on campus) Ed Hermes debates the issue with some snarky Rethuglican, possible the measure's sponsor, A STATE senator! Look for more information as it becomes available, but for now everything you never knew you want to know and more is...
Below the Fold!
See an anaylysis by the legislative council at the state house here.
The measure says that those who are "not a citizen or legal resident of the United States or was not otherwise lawfully present in the United States" are inellegible for participiation in Adult Education classes, child care assistance, or the family literacy program. While these are important programs, they are not my primary area of concern, or what I would consider one of my core comptencies, so I will reluctanctly leave them to other, more informed writers.
What does directly concern me is the two other main clauses about higher education.
First, the proposition restricts classification as an in-state student at community colleges and state universities to those who are legally in the country, either by virtue of citizenship or by immigration status. This clause is meant to save money for our struggling higher education system.
The other clause states that those same students who are not in the country legally are not ellegible for state-funded financial aid. Again, this is meant to save money for legal students.
There are many different problems with this proposition.
First, the vast majority of these students did not come here by their own free will. I will be the first to admit I do not have solid numbers on this, but it has been the experience of many here at ASU that immigrants do not come here to study, they come to work and provide a better life for their children. It is those children that grow up here believeing that college is the ticket to the American Dream. To deny those students the right to pursue their dreams is unconsciousable.
Second, many of those same students have had to overcome incredible adversity to reach college. I am not going to spout the numbers about the poverty rate among immigrants, or the probability that their children will graduate high school, but they are not a pretty picture. To block such incredible students from pursuing their academic goals not only hurts them but also Arizona by denying it the well-educated skill workers it needs to stay competitive in the global workplace. Instead, this proposition will make them more likely to drop out of high school and fall into a life of poverty, or worse, crime. This is not to say that those individuals have a predisposition to a life of crime, rather that when we cut off economic opportunites for groups, they may not have many viable options besides crime.
Next, the proponents of this proposition say that it will save the state of Arizona money. I would like to see their numbers about how many illegal immigrants they believe are at our universities, because I have a few of my own:
There are currently somewhere around 60,000 students at ASU. Even if it only took twenty minutes to get each student verified as eligible, that's 20,000 manhours of work. It would take at least ten people working full time (40 hours a week for 48 weeks, plus spare change in overtime) to verify all students for the next academic year. The measure's backers will be quick to point out that that cost will only be for one year. This is true, but it's going to take a lot more than ten minutes for many students, not to mention the international students. Even if in later years it took 20 minutes a student to verify eligibilty, and they just verify the freshman class (around 6000 students), not counting transfer students, or graduate and professional students (who are more likely to be some of those time-consuming international students) it would still be one person working full time on enrollment verification. Even that number is underestimating the cost because:
-It doesn't allow for graduate students, transfer students, or professional students
-It doesn't directly account for the additional cost of any employee
-There would be considerable start-up costs associate with this program and
-There would be ongoing overhead costs associated with running the program and storing the records.
But the real kicker comes in the number of students who apply each year: 100,000 applicants to Arizona State alone. That works out to at least seventeen full-time employees or the equivalent. Seventeen full-time employees is a new office, with all the expense that would entail.
I have saved my least favorite justification of the program for last: Immigrants don't deserve it.
This argument runs in the vein of so many anti-immigrant arguments. It presuposes that all illegal immigrants are in the country working under-the-table jobs and not contributing to the economy. Many immigrants do in fact pay taxes, they are contributing to the state economy, and through their taxes, to the state university system. Financially, they most likely deserve it as much as the next tax payer.
Proposition 300: It won't prevent immigration, it won't encourage the development or assimilation of the immigrant community, it certainly won't help the university, and it won't help our state economy. The real question then, is this:
Proposition 300: Who is it helping?