American Renaissance

Immigrant Tuition Ignores Law

Kris W. Kobach, Kansas City Star, Jun. 16

On May 20, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed into law a statute giving in-state tuition at Kansas universities to illegal aliens.

The following day, I appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor” and criticized this law as unfair to Kansas taxpayers and out-of-state students. I pointed out that if an estimated 2,000 illegal aliens took advantage of this subsidy, it could cost Kansas taxpayers more than $15 million a year. I reiterated these arguments in a letter published by The Star.

Star columnist Mike Hendricks, who thinks subsidizing the tuition of illegal aliens is just fine, attacked my position. Specifically, he accused me of making up the number 2,000. According to Hendricks, “the number is a fiction.”

Where did I get the number? From The Kansas City Star itself! On April 25, Mary Sanchez reported that the Kansas law “would allow … about 2,000 … Kansas seniors to pay in-state tuition.”

In fact, it is inherently difficult to estimate how many illegal aliens will exploit this law. According to conservative and now-outdated INS estimates from four years ago, approximately 8,000 illegal aliens are in grades 1-12 in Kansas. Extrapolating from those estimates, up to 2,667 aliens might receive in-state tuition each year.

Of course, not all eligible illegal aliens will take advantage of this subsidy. It could be 2,500, or it could be 500. But it will cost Kansas taxpayers millions in either case.

More important, Hendricks and two other Star columnists who criticized my arguments utterly ignored the main reason that Kansas’ law is objectionable: It’s illegal.

It violates federal law on two levels. First and foremost, the Kansas Legislature itself violated federal law by passing the bill. In 1996, Congress enacted a federal statute specifically prohibiting state governments from giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens. The Kansas Legislature flagrantly disregarded this federal law.

Beyond the illegality of the legislation itself, Kansas is now encouraging aliens to violate federal immigration laws.

Kansas handsomely rewards illegal behavior with a valuable education benefit.

Amazingly, the Kansas law denies in-state tuition to those legal aliens who have a valid student visa. Aliens are told: “In Kansas, we encourage you to violate the law. If you actually get a valid visa to study here, we will penalize you by making you pay out-of-state tuition.” It’s utterly absurd.

We must restore the rule of law in immigration. Unfortunately, Kansas isn’t helping.

Kris Kobach is a Republican candidate for Congress in the 3rd District of Kansas. In 2001-2003, he served as the U.S. attorney general’s chief adviser on immigration and border security.