The Knucklehead of the Day award
Today's winner is the Palm Beach Post editorial board. It's been a while since Randy Schultz and company earned one.
They get the award for an editorial today advocating in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
It's consistent with the nation's conflicted views on immigration that the Legislature feels strongly both ways when it comes to deciding whether to allow children of illegal immigrants the same in-state college tuition rates as Floridians.
In 2003 and 2004, the Senate unanimously passed legislation giving students who are illegal immigrants the reduced tuition. The bill moved through the House without opposition during both sessions, but the Republican leadership stopped it each time from reaching the floor.
Positions abruptly reversed last year when the House supported the idea in a bill sponsored by Rep. Juan Zapata, R-Miami, but then the Senate balked. This year, it's the same story. After moving through the House, HB 119 has run aground in the Senate. The most powerful opposition has come from Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon, who says he fears that the bill would promote more illegal immigration and that the Legislature shouldn't underwrite unlawful activity - views he didn't have in '03 and '04 when he voted for approval.
Rep. Zapata's latest version would allow illegal residents to qualify for tuition breaks if they have attended public schools in Florida for three consecutive years. Only 2,000 top-ranked students are eligible, and they are excluded from Bright Futures and other state-run scholarship programs. The cost savings for the immigrants would be substantial - perhaps $12,000 a year at the University of Florida, for example.
Eight states already allow illegal immigrants to pay the same fees - including New York, California, Texas and Illinois, which have large immigrant populations. In Congress, a similar measure called the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minorities Act) - which would guarantee the in-state rates to the 65,000 illegal immigrants who graduate from high school each year - is stalled over the same objections as in Florida.
Gov. Bush supports Rep. Zapata's bill, correctly believing that good students, regardless of their immigration status, are worth the investment and will contribute to the state's future. Misplaced blame remains the biggest obstacle. Senate Republicans want to punish children for the violations of their parents and look politically tough doing it. Motivated, successful students shouldn't be made scapegoats for the nation's failure to solve its immigration problems.
The editorial is titled 'Legally educate illegals'. That was the Post's first mistake.
Under a federal law passed in 1998 it is illegal for states to offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens unless all students are offered that rate. The Post doesn't mention that. Is Randy Schultz and company ignorant or dishonest?
Yes other states have done the same for illegal alients. The Post however fails to mention that California is being sued by out of state students. A Class Action lawsuit that is likely to cost California millions. Do Florida taxpayers need to do a repeat?
Not to mention why an illegal alien should get priviliges over a person whose 'crime' is from being out of state.
For advocating the passing of an illegal law, The Palm Beach Post editorial board is today's Knucklehead of the Day.
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