posted by Mark West at Friday, March 11, 2005
Literally, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. One day after reading Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe’s seemingly vague non-opinion on HB1525 I read this morning that Attorney General Beebe now believes that the bill may violate federal law. It seems that those sticklers for morality in the beltway made it illegal to give postsecondary education benefits to an illegal immigrant on the basis of residency without offering the same benefits to citizens who live outside of the state. HB1525 (Rep. Elliott D – Little Rock) offers postsecondary benefits to illegal immigrants without extending those benefits to American citizens who live in other states. Attorney General Beebe believes the bill is potentially a lawsuit waiting to happen.Arkansas State Representative Joyce Elliott (D – Little Rock) disagrees. Representative Elliott believes that the federal law doesn’t apply in this case for one reason…she’s not talking about “illegal immigrants”; she’s talking about “undocumented children”. Elliott also disagrees with letting the bill sit idle simply because it could face a legal challenge if passed and is undaunted in her quest to get this legislation through. I would prefer a few questions be answered prior to moving on.Representative Elliott, why such a hurry? Why snuff out the public debate on this issue? Why not wait until a similar lawsuit in another state is decided so that we can see what ground we really have to stand on? Does a crisis exist among “illegal immigrants”…sorry…”undocumented children” who are in need of public funds for college?Representative Elliott, why should already stretched public funds earmarked for “fixing” our schools as “ordered” by the Lake View decision be diverted to provide scholarships for “illegal immigrants”…oops, did it again…”undocumented children”? Shouldn’t we look to take care of citizens first? Compound this with the possible cost of legal challenges and it seems only logical response is to wait or not do it at all.Representative Elliott, why do you play semantics with your word choice? You say the bill is intended for “undocumented children” and the law states that they are not officially “illegal” until they are 18 and one-half years old. How old are most students when they begin college…umm…I mean “postsecondary education”? More than half of college students are 18 and one-half upon entering college, most others attain that age within their first year of college. Therefore, these scholarships would be given to “illegal immigrants”, not “undocumented children” three or more years of college without requiring them to become legal citizens. Shame on you for being so deceptive!Representative Elliott, why do you play politics with the naturalization process? Your bill requires only an affidavit of intent to become a naturalized citizen that could be ignored rather than actually requiring naturalization. Why play games? Citizenship should be the goal of legislation, not a hopeful side effect!Maybe that explains the rush to pass this bill, is it fear that the citizens of this state will have the opportunity to think this through and lobby their Senators to oppose it?Thinking Arkansans realize that “illegal immigrants” can become citizens if they will only submit themselves to the naturalization process. Thinking Arkansans realize that “illegal immigrants” who refuse to naturalize should be sent back to their home country. Thinking Arkansans realize the difference between someone being in this country illegally…err, uhh…undocumented and someone who has gone through the proper process to be legally in this nation. Thinking Arkansans realize that our border with Mexico is one of the greatest national security threats we face and that legislation like HB1525 will enflame that problem. Thinking Arkansans realize that you reward behavior that you want to encourage and punish behavior you want to discourage thus giving benefits to illegal immigrants encourages more illegal immigration…not less.Unfortunately for her bill, Arkansas is not a state of rubes, but rather of intelligent, thoughtful people who know the difference between compassion and compulsion. Most Arkansans don’t play the politics of semantics and can see through the veil of verbiage intended to blind us to what folks like Representative Elliott are really up to.
Paragraph One contains an error. Should read, "One day after reading Arkansas Attorney General Mike Beebe's seemingly vague non-opinion on SB206 I read this morning that Attorney General Beebe now believes that HB1525 may violate federal law.Sorry for the error!
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