Disqus

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Dream Act Dies (But It's Okay if It Happens When a Republican Rules a Committee)

Getting down to the waning days of this Legislative Session so things are happening quickly.

One bill that has died was the DREAM Act which would have allowed children of undocumented workers access to higher education in the state.  I supported this bill simply because it is common sense.  These kids had no choice about where they were brought to grow up.  If they have the smarts to get through high school and be ready for college, we should let them in.  Because they are not going back to their country of their parents and we are constantly being told we need an educated populace.  Well, with higher ed costs soaring, something has to give. 

What really annoys me is the hypocrisy.  You might recall that when the charter school bill was in committee last year, that the committee head, Sharon Tomiko-Santos, refused to allow a vote.  (I thought that was wrong then and I said it.)  The Republicans could not have been more scathing in their reaction.

Fast forward to today when the EXACT same thing happened with the DREAM Act.  The committee chair, Senator Barbara Bailey (R), refused a vote.  And more than 100 students had come to Olympia to speak at a hearing which she then cancelled.  Not so classy.

The Senate Majority leader, Senator Rodney Tom, not only did not blame her, he said the bill died because the Dems supporting it didn't work hard enough.  He also had it in his power to bring it to a floor vote but refused. 

Pot, meet the kettle. 

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I don't agree. College aid & in-state tuition are benefits granted to legal Washington residents because they are financed by taxes paid by legal Washington residents.

Dream Act would give children of undocumented workers advantages not currently being offered to the children of US Citizens and legal residents living in other states (through no fault of those kids' own, either). How is that fair?

Children of undocumented residents are already welcome to apply for aid at private universities same as anyone. With the pool of funds so limited, draw the line as other states do and offer in-state benefits to legal residents only.

-Evergreen

Patrick said...

Evergreen, on the state level, they pay sales tax on what they buy just like legal residents. On the federal level, many work using fake social security numbers, so the FICA and income tax withholding are taken out of their paycheck, but they don't get to collect medicare or social security benefits or file tax returns to get tax refunds. (There are also some who avoid that by working for cash, but it gets hard for an employer to hide such large cash payments and they risk getting in trouble for not making employer's contributions to social security.)

The education of all those young people within our borders remains one of the best investments the state can make, and it's a shame the state is going to pass on it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Evergreen, I certainly see your point. We have scarce funds to try to help certain students through higher ed. But the children of undocumented workers aren't going anywhere. I'd rather see them do better than worse because it will benefit all of us.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Evergreen, I certainly see your point. We have scarce funds to try to help certain students through higher ed. But the children of undocumented workers aren't going anywhere. I'd rather see them do better than worse because it will benefit all of us.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, I'm not against these kids getting free K-12 education in our public schools.

Once they turn 18 these students are legally adults. They should have to establish residency by the same means that we already require legal residents from Oregon, for example, before being eligible for in-state tuition or financial aid! Or let them apply as an international student, or to private colleges.

They shouldn't get an easier or better deal than legal residents do!

Any payroll taxes they may or may not have, were from work done here ILLEGALLY.

-Evergreen

Anonymous said...

Evergreen, the point is that all payroll taxes they pay, they are not able to collect because they were paid on a false SSN. They do not receive refunds on taxes either. So in reality, illegal residents are paying taxes and not getting any of the benefits of paying those taxes.

HP

Anonymous said...

HP, it's impossible to know how many illegal workers have taxes withheld from their wages, or how many work for cash off the books, etc.

Of those who do, it's impossible to know how much of those funds withheld actually make it to the government in the form of taxes paid, or how much ends up in the pocket of unethical employers.

But because these people are working ILLEGALLY, it's not realistic for them to expect they should receive the same benefits as legal workers would, whether that be Medicare or Social Security or public college benefits for their children.

The fact that they DON'T qualify for Federal benefits is simply more evidence that they shouldn't qualify for State benefits either!

I would argue that undocumented workers COST the state in lost L&I and taxes because they depress wages for all low-paid occupations, often work in unsafe conditions, and take minimum wage jobs away from legal residents (including immigrants) who would have paid withholding taxes and filed a tax return!

-Evergreen

Patrick said...

Evergreen, it was also illegal for bankers to foreclose on housing loans without documenting the loan status. Should we deny their children in-state tuition?

Jan said...

I am not sure it is as cut and dried as either side of the debate suggests.

Countering Evergreen: undocumented immigrant families pay the same sales taxes as the rest of us, and either directly or indirectly, the same property taxes. There are not "refunds" (that I know of) on any of those -- so I don't see the validity of claiming that somehow they are freeloading in terms of "taxes in, benefits out." Every new resident who lives here for a year and then is eligible is getting far more "for free" than a family of undocumented immigrants that has shopped her, paid rent here, or owned a home here for 10 or 15 years. From a "did you (or your family) pay taxes to support the benefits you now want, the entire system is set up in a manner that does not require fairness. But many people don't mind that, until the recipient is someone objectionable to them on other grounds (because their families have not established residency in accordance with applicable federal laws).

To Patrick's and Melissa's point, on the other hand -- I have no clue whether the state Dream Act can bear the weight of the "this is a good investment" analysis or the "it will benefit all of us" analysis. These young adults may very well return to (or be deported to) their countries of origin, making any benefit to Washington and its citizens tenuous indeed -- and since funds for aid are scarce, it is not like cutting them off will mean the money isn't spent -- it just won't be spent on them! (Some kid born in Adams County, or Grant County, or Thurston County, or Wyoming, or whatever, will get it instead -- and they are at least as likely to "stay here" rather than return to China, Mexico, or another country of origin.

If we do this, I think we do it because for all practical purposes, these are "our" kids -- at least for now. They were brought here by others through no fault of their own. This is their home (and no, an 18 year old "woman" should not be expected to return "home" to Mexico or central America, or wherever, to start the immigration process, while doing -- what? -- to support herself in a country she may have not seen since she was 2. I cannot think that Evergreen is suggesting this!) They are here. They may stay. They are "kids," of 18 or 19. They have been in school for decades with our kids, and are our kids' friends. And we are their community, their village. We need to treat them like other members of our society. Not because society will benefit any more (or less) if the money goes to these kids versus kids born here -- I think it is a wash. Or because they didn't pay taxes to "earn" these benefits (they paid far more than out of state folks who live here for a year to establish residency). We should do it because we are humans, and it is human decency to do so -- and wrong not to.

Jan said...

Melissa -- thanks for your point, though, on the hypocrisy of the GOP, screaming about Sharon Tomiko Santos's (heroic, in my view) attempts to prevent bad ALEC-form legislation from being imposed on Washington citizens with insufficient deliberation (remember those 11th hour attempts to squeeze in ed reform bills?), but claiming that their similar inaction with respect to the DREAM act (which was not shuffled in in the dark in the 11th hour) were justified (or better yet, the Dems fault? How sleazy is that, Senator Tom?) It reminded me of last week, when Speaker Boehner complained that Obama and the Dems were "holding deficit cutting hostage" to their demands for increased revenue! Ha! Well, if anyone should be able to identify hostage taking in negotiations, it is Boehner and the House.

Anonymous said...

Payment of state sales taxes has never been a criteria for establishing Washington residency, nor should it be.

What about the thousands of Canadians who cross the border each year to shop in Bellingham, should they be allowed to buy their residency status by paying state sales tax? Or the Japanese tour groups who visit for a weekend Mariners game, hotel and shopping, should their children become eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid?

Of course not, and neither should undocumented aliens. We should not offer anyone benefits simply because their parents broke the law!

-Evergreen

Anonymous said...

If they have lived here over a year and paid all the local taxes for over a year, than yay, the kids who did not choose to be here should enjoy the same benefits as other kids who have been here for a year. You can't compare them to Canadians who shop here or tourists who visit.

HP

Anonymous said...

You're right, HP. So why did you bring up the fact that some pay sales taxes? It's irrelevant to this discussion, because paying sales taxes does not establish residency.

Those tourists visit here LEGALLY. The Dream Act rewards people who have broken the law by living and working here ILLEGALLY. There's just no comparison!

-Evergreen