With America’s Schools in Crisis, Why Talk about the DREAM Act?

Published on July 22nd, 2011

by Joe Guzzardi
July 15, 2011

If President Obama and his allies pull off the unpopular DREAM Act in this economic environment, it will be a dirty trick neither Americans nor the White House can afford.

With Obama’s presidency teetering, he can ill-afford continued lobbying for the DREAM Act. Obama is under heavy fire from Republican foes and Democratic friends alike on fronts much more important than providing instate tuition to illegal alien college students: an unemployment rate consistently over 9 percent, jobs’ reports that month after month indicate employment opportunities are pitifully few, an inability to strike a budget deal which may result in withholding Social Security checks from struggling elderly Americans, the “Fast and Furious” weapons scandal and the costly (in terms of lives and trillions) Afghanistan war.

On education, K-12 teachers and full freight university students are under financial siege. From New York to California, huge cuts in state budgets have created looming layoffs for millions of teachers. For the lucky ones that hold onto their positions, their salaries are frozen. Higher education is no better. According to a study by the College Board, for the school year 2010-11, in-state tuition and related fees at public four-year colleges and universities rose to $7,605, up 7.9 percent from a year ago. At private four-year institutions, the average cost rose 4.5 percent to $27,293.

As a direct result of a 20 percent cut in state education funding during the past two years, California State University students are paying more. Tuition rose 5 percent this year, after jumps of 10 percent annually for the past few years. Undergraduates at the University of California system are faring just as poorly. Faced with a $1 billion operating budget gap, last November the UC Regents approved an 8 percent tuition increase for 2011-12. Then, earlier this week, UC administrators approved another jump, this one for 9.6 percent. UC has raised tuition nine times in the last 10 years, more than tripling its rates. Even community colleges, where 40 percent of college students begin their advanced educations, feel the pinch. Fees are up across the board.

"Prices are continuing to rise more rapidly than the rate of inflation, particularly in the public sector," said Sandy Baum, independent policy analyst at the College Board. "Public colleges and universities are getting less money from the states because the states just don’t have money to give them."

Baum’s explanation for soaring tuition raises the obvious question. If neither the federal government nor the states have enough money to provide funding to stabilize fees for currently enrolled university students, how can universities afford to finance at reduced rates millions of illegal aliens’ educations? The answer is they can’t.

After it was defeated during last year’s lame duck session, Obama said: “My administration will not give up on the DREAM Act…” Obama has made good on that promise. In fact, his administration authorized Immigration and Customs Enforcement to grant an administrative amnesty to alien students who may be subject to deportation.

The harsh reality is that the DREAM Act increases taxes to overburdened citizens and limits admission opportunities for American students whose parents have subsidized public education for decades.

Nevertheless, Obama recklessly presses ahead hoping that the DREAM Act will catch lightning in a bottle with Hispanic voters. If Obama had the nation’s best interests in mind, he’d put unemployment and the nation’s crippling debt on the top of his to-do list.


Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns—mostly about immigration and related social issues – since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns have frequently been syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected].

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