A chance at a better life through education

Education is the cornerstone of preventing crime and instilling societal responsibility.

A bill allowing children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities is making its way through the State Legislature. It addresses children who currently can attend public schools but find themselves out of luck after graduation.

Though not a full solution, the bill is a step in the right direction for dealing with immigration issues.

Currently, children of illegal immigrants face a glass ceiling. Many give up on education once they realize in high school that they cannot attend college. The bill does not say aid should be offered to these young people, only that the rates should be the same as those for in-state students.

People who come here illegally should not be rewarded for breaking the law. But immigration issues should be dealt with pragmatically. Rather than treating illegal immigrants as shadows – there but not mentioned – efforts should be made to foster discussion.

Legislation such as this initiative is beneficial for the state. The benefits of education go well beyond a higher-skilled working class. Education is the cornerstone of lowering birth rates, preventing crime and instilling societal responsibility.

Constructive efforts should be made to improve the immigration process and should help to cut away the bureaucracy that wastes time and money and plays cruel games with people’s lives. Illegal immigrants are not going to go away.

National immigration reform is the real issue here. Minnesota is not the only state looking at the costs of college for children of illegal immigrants. Proposals and legislation are being floated in Kansas, Arkansas and New Mexico, among others.

Sadly, some of the debate has turned from thoughtful ideas toward xenophobia and fear-mongering about terrorism. With immigration reform, wearing blinders and earplugs is not going to cut it. Instead we must find solutions that work, and we should start with allowing these young people to find affordable higher education options.