U.S. citizens miss out when universities assist undocumented students

 Undocumented student Vlad Stoicescu-Ghica, 21, originally from Romania, is shown in this 2014 photograph at the University of California, Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Undocumented student Vlad Stoicescu-Ghica, 21, originally from Romania, is shown in this 2014 photograph at the University of California, Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

It was only a matter of time. A recent article in the New York Times has declared, “Financial Aid for Undocumented Students is Losing Its Stigma.”

According to the Times, colleges “appear increasingly comfortable treating undocumented students the same as they do citizens … Many colleges willingly admit undocumented students … but still classify them as international students, who usually receive little financial aid.”

But at least one college “considers undocumented students eligible for the same aid as any United States citizen. And in the fall … it will offer additional grants to DACA students to pay for what federal aid would cover for a citizen. The college’s officials say that will allow them to enroll more of these students.”

The Times continues, “To make higher education affordable to undocumented students, colleges must often provide substantial assistance, because [DACA] does not make these students eligible for federal tuition aid.”

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U.S. colleges courting undocumented immigrants

“DACA” is the Obama administration’s acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. “Childhood Arrivals” is the Obama Administration’s euphemism for children whose parents came to this country with them illegally.

So colleges and universities, from NYU to California’s Pomona College, are now recruiting and providing financial aid to undocumented children of unauthorized migrants. The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation will help support some of them. The University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, has already enrolled 38 such students.

The cost of a year of tuition, room and board at selective colleges and universities like NYU and Pomona is about $60,000. That’s more than the annual salary of an average American family. Even more painful: In the period from 2007 to 2013, while American household income declined 7 percent, private college tuitions rose approximately 20 percent. So, relative to costs, financial aid is becoming an increasingly scarce and coveted resource.

Let’s not mince words. First, financial aid is a zero-sum game. Every dollar that a college gives to a student who entered the country illegally is a dollar that is not awarded to a U.S. citizen.

Second, time is a finite resource. Every hour a college spends seeking funds for student who entered the country illegally is an hour not spent seeking funds for U.S. citizens — whose parents pay taxes, and who, more than likely, are competing for that same finite pool of financial aid.

Worst of all, every scholarship given to an unauthorized migrant sends a message to properly documented immigrants: You played by the rules, and you lost out.

Welcome immigrants who play by the rules

Immigrants and their children are a vibrant part of American life. I know. My four grandparents emigrated to America from southern Italy, a region so poor that women would scrape plaster off the walls to thicken their bread dough. But after they got to America, my grandparents saw five of their six children graduate from college.

The sixth child was my mother. With her brother in medical school, there wasn’t enough money to send her to college. Then, as now, there weren’t enough scholarships for the children of legally documented immigrants, much less the undocumented.

Higher education’s embrace of these immigrants is the latest example of academe blindly marching in step to the tune of the Obama administration. (Another example: academe’s dismantling of the rights of the accused in sexual misconduct cases to preserve their Title IX funding.)

Of course, we shouldn’t blame children for their parents’ unlawful actions. When you’re seven years old, and your parents sneak you over the border in the dead of night, we shouldn’t punish you. But neither should we reward you.

So why can’t colleges allocate their limited resources to the children of legally documented immigrants instead?

Here are some whom I’ve met in my small town:

The owners of our Thai and Chinese restaurants
Our Mexican landscapers
The owners of our French bakery
Our Irish stonemason
The Iranian owners of our cheese shop
The Korean owners of our dry cleaners
The Mexican bakers in our kosher bakery (Only in America!)

All of these people are in America legally, and nearly all have children. What are America’s leading colleges and universities doing to recruit the children of these model citizens?

Millions of people have flocked to America in pursuit of the American Dream. That dream is achieved by playing by the rules. We all know these rules: Come to America — legally. Work hard. Build a strong family. Get an education. Then, slowly but surely, climb the ladder to success.

Colleges who give scholarships to undocumented students are thumbing their noses at these rules. Their misplaced largesse impedes the formation of a citizenry who will play by our rules in the future. These colleges’ actions mean that the rule of law will be sublimated by yet another unearned entitlement. Keep this in mind the next time alma mater comes calling for contributions.

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