Wherefore heartless?

A long-time reader writes about Rick Perry’s position on college tuition for illegal immigrants and his claim that those who disagree with him are heartless:

Rick Perry took some serious hits in Thursday’s presidential debate for his defense of the view that children brought to Texas illegally by their parents should receive the same discount on their college tuition at Texas’ public universities as children who reside in Texas legally. On Friday, however, several conservatives at NRO’s Corner defended Perry’s position to one degree or another.

For example, Christian Schneider wrote:

By the time an undocumented child makes it from first grade to graduating high school, taxpayers have already sunk over $100,000 into that child’s education. To pull the plug on those children because of the actions of their parents would be unfair, and would nullify the investment taxpayers have already made in the kid.

But I see nothing unfair about refusing to sink a second $100,000 or so into the education of people who have no right to be in the United States. And the $100,000 already invested will not be “nullified” unless one assumes these students will forget how to read, write, and cipher. A K-12 education is a huge asset in itself; it is not valuable only as a prelude to higher education.

To be sure, most people need a college education to compete for the better-paying jobs. But illegal aliens will be competing for these jobs with people who are in the United States legally. Why should they receive a discount not available to U.S. citizens who live outside the state on the diploma that will enable them to compete?

More generally, what are the limits on the benefits taxpayers must confer on those who are in the United States illegally? If they are school-age, they already receive a free K-12 education in public schools, where their presence may cause over-crowded class rooms. In addition, even without discounted tuition, they would be able to attend Texas’ state universities for the same price as out-of-state students. Because a comparable private education typically would cost them more, this should be viewed as another benefit conferred by taxpayers.

Illegal immigrants are also eligible for emergency medical care through the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. That care is often paid for by Emergency Medicaid or is written off as bad debt or charity care by the hospital. In Texas, the annual cost of unreimbursed medical care to illegal immigrants has been estimated at $8.5 billion.

Thus, my question for Governor Perry is, what other benefits, goodies, and discounts for illegal immigrants must conservatives support before he will acknowledge that they have a heart?


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