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View From Lodi, CA: Illegal Immigrants Will Take Americans` College Places – At Taxpayer Expense
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February 01, 2002, 09:00 AM
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President George Bush`s dream of an amnesty for 4 million Mexicans illegally living in the U.S. reminds me of a cork.

Push it down over here and it pops back up over there.

Once again, amnesty is back on Bush`s front burner.

Two weeks ago, Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda had a cozy chat with Secretary of State Colin Powell. After their meeting, Powell announced that he is "determined" to press ahead with this "very important" issue.

The 9/11 attacks, which abruptly derailed last summer`s amnesty freight train were, according to Powell, a mere "detour…a diversion."

Powell doesn`t identify the parties that see amnesty as vital. Why should he embarrass himself?

And calling 9/11 a detour and a diversion is odd language. I doubt if Powell would chose those words when addressing the victim`s families.

I give the devil his due. I stand in awe of Vicente Fox`s relentless, full-court pressure. And I remain slack-jawed at Bush`s willingness to risk political capital by resurrecting amnesty time and again despite the disapproval of the American people.

Look at the high and the mighty that have paraded to Mexico for the Fox seal of approval. Among them are Bush, Powell, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senate Majority Leader Daschle, Senators Helms, Gramm, Domenici, Bunning, Miller, Craig, Ensign, Biden, Chafee and Hagel.

Others include House Democratic Leader Gephardt, California Governor Gray Davis, Georgia Governor Roy Barnes and Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn.

Now, according to a White House press release, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge will head a delegation traveling to Mexico in March to discuss a "safe and secure border". No matter what the announced agenda is, you can be sure it translates into more migration from Mexico to the U.S.

But while Bush is having trouble mustering up Congressional support for amnesty, the process is underway nevertheless.

What you can`t get by hook, you can get by crook.

If an illegal alien has a Mexican consular identification card, a driver`s license and if his child qualifies for in-state tuition rates, he`s got a good chunk of what amnesty would provide.

Dozens of states are considering some or all of the above. In our own besieged California, consular identification cards are on the verge of statewide acceptance, driver`s licenses for illegal aliens remain high on Governor Davis`s wish list, and the Board of Regents approved in-state tuition at the prestigious University of California system last week in a 17-5 vote.

As with all immigration related issues in California, the dilemma of tuition breaks for bright, motivated but illegal students has plagued legislators for more than two decades.

And, as usual in these debates, the ultimate outcome favored those here illegally.

Compassion has limits. California, already stretched to the maximum, should—but unceasingly refuses to—face reality.

An $11,000 discount in annual tuition to illegal aliens attending UC schools does more than add to the state`s looming $12 billion budget deficit. The message to illegal aliens sent by the Regents is clear: Come to California. College is on us!

In-state tuition for illegal immigrants is unfair across the board. Sometime soon, a legal California resident will lose his place at UC to an illegal alien. And that student`s taxpaying parents will foot the bill.

On January 22, CNN invited UC Regent Ward Connerly and Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante to debate tuition breaks for illegal immigrants. Anchor Jack Cafferty asked Bustamante (send him mail) why taxpayers should have to subsidize college tuition for illegal aliens.

Said Bustamante elusively, "These young people are all in the process of being legalized."

"In that case," pressed Cafferty, "why not wait until they`re legal." Bustamante had no reply.

Last week, I spoke with two of the five Regents who voted against reduced tuition.

According to both, the Board of Regents caved into heavy pressure from the Latino lobby. But neither "Nay" vote was cast because of strong-arming.

Both Regents felt that the decision to grant in-state tuition to illegal residents violated a federal law and would not hold up in court. A class action lawsuit filed by an out of state, legal U.S. resident who would not qualify for the same tuition break as an illegal alien is anticipated.

If you`re wondering what could possibly be next in the continuing deference to illegal aliens, more bad news is right around the corner.

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), Bush`s "point man" (translation: bag man), has introduced H. B. 1918, the Student Adjustment Act.

See if you can guess which way Cannon (send him mail) wants to adjust things.

H.B. 1918 would permit any high-school student illegally in the U.S. but with five years of good moral conduct to qualify for college financial aid including Pell Grants. Furthermore, those students would be exempt from deportation and could immediately apply for permanent residency.

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to the entire bundle of bogus give aways--consular visas, driver`s licenses, in-state tuition and abundant welfare benefits now under consideration for legal immigrants but non-citizens.

Once, the ballot box was the court of last appeal. But in California, our gubernatorial candidates may be Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

In a recent public statement, Richard Riordan, a likely Davis opponent, expressed support for unlimited welfare and education benefits to illegal aliens.

Craven pandering has replaced common sense and fair play.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.