Eliminate Pull Factors to Reduce Illegal Immigration

March 22, 2016 | PFIR

If you told someone not to come to your party, and he showed up anyway, would you give him a goodie bag that encourages him to stay?

Of course not.

Yet, that’s effectively what two illegal alien college students are demanding of Georgia in a new lawsuit. They want to receive in-state tuition at Perimeter College, a state-funded school. Existing Georgia law reserves the privilege of in-state tuition just for legal Georgia residents.

The court should throw out the suit. Georgia lawmakers and voters have every right to limit financial benefits to legal state residents. In fact, eliminating such benefits nationwide will deter illegal immigration and relieve the burden on American taxpayers.

The United States offers significant financial rewards to people who violate immigration laws. Illegal aliens receive free primary and secondary education. And 18 states extend education benefits even further, by offering in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Educating illegal aliens isn’t free. American taxpayers foot the bill. Public education, on average, costs about $12,300 per pupil per year. California alone spends an estimated $12.3 billion annually to provide K-12 education to the children of illegal aliens — many of whom require additional programs like English as a Second Language. California additionally spent up to $289 million to provide in-state college tuition to illegal aliens in 2005.

Offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens isn’t just bad policy — it’s against federal law. Since the late 1990s, statute 8 U.S.C. § 1623 has barred states from offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens based on residence, unless the state also awards the same benefit to U.S. citizens from other states.

States, however, have circumvented this federal law. California, for instance, passed a law stating that illegal aliens could receive in-state tuition if they’ve attended high school in California for three or more years.

American citizens from other states who attend California schools sued the Golden State for lower tuition. Absurdly, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state did not base its in-state tuition for illegal aliens on “residence” — even though, for all intents and purposes, a person attending high school in California is almost certainly a resident.

Today, California continues to offer illegal aliens in-state tuition, while denying U.S. citizens from other states such benefits.

Aside from education, illegal aliens benefit from other public assistance programs that provide food, healthcare, and housing.

They use these programs at higher rates than native-born Americans. For instance, nearly 57 percent of illegal-alien households use food assistance programs, compared to about 22 percent of native-born American households. Just over half of illegal-alien households use the Medicaid low-income health insurance program, compared to about 23 percent of native-born American households.

Like everyone else, illegal aliens respond to incentives. If lawmakers want to curb illegal immigration and ease the burden placed on taxpayers, they’ll need to make illegally migrating and staying in the United States less attractive. That means reducing the benefits illegal aliens receive.

Without the goodie bags, people might stop showing up to the party uninvited.

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It’s hard to imagine me sneaking into another country, then demanding things.

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