EXPERTS: New UMich tuition policy benefitting illegals violates intent of law
Illegal immigrants do not have permanent legal resident status in the U.S., so colleges typically consider them out-of-state students.
With the new university policy, any student can qualify for in-state tuition and claim residency in Michigan if they go to a middle school in Michigan for at least two years and also by earning a GED or by graduating from a Michigan high school that they attended for a minimum of three years, according to Inside Higher Ed.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, yearly in-state tuition and fees at UMich is roughly $15,550, while out-of-state is over $51,000.
Additionally, students previously needed to enroll at the university within 28 months of high school graduation to be eligible for in-state tuition. But the new policy, approved by the Board of Regents in July, allows for in-state tuition within 40 months of graduating high school.
The Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) “is not in support of universities providing in-state tuition and additional tuition assistance for illegal aliens,” FAIR spokesman Matthew Tragesser told Campus Reform.
Tragesser went on to highlight how UMich’s policy violates the intent of federal law.
“Most importantly, federal law, specifically the [Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act] IIRAIRA of 1996, prohibits granting in-state tuition to those in the country illegally,” he said. “The University of Michigan policy violates the intent of the 1996 law. States have gotten around it by offering in-state benefits on the basis of having completed three years of secondary education in the state, rather on immigration status – a loophole Congress now refuses to close.”
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) to which Tragesser alluded was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
“Accordingly, the University of Michigan’s in-state tuition requirement change further rewards individuals who have openly violated our nation’s immigration laws,” Tragesser continued. “Offering higher education benefits like this serve[s] as a ‘pull factor’ that only incentivizes more illegal immigration.”
The FAIR spokesman also noted that giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants would limit funds set aside for legal residents of the U.S.
“Postsecondary education budgets are not unlimited,” he said. “Granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens often means that a smaller pot of money is available to U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants.”
Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, also addressed the new UMich policy while speaking with Campus Reform.
“The last thing our overburdened education system needs is to enact policies that flood the system with even more students who are not even in the country legally,” he said. “This can only result in less resources being spent on legal resident students.”
“Granting in-state tuition to illegal aliens would further strain already tight education budgets,” Wilcox told Campus Reform. “Taxpayers, who are largely subsidizing post-secondary education, would be required to sacrifice even more to underwrite this ill-advised experiment.”
The IRLI executive director also noted that this would have an effect on college admissions.
“Admission into elite universities is already highly competitive,” he stated. “Now, hard-working and high-achieving American students may get rejection letters while those spots are taken by foreigners who have literally cut in line to be there. That is disturbingly unjust.”
Campus Reform reached out to UMich for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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