The United States, especially its cities, long has benefited from the arrival of immigrants, their talent and energy restoring neighborhoods, their entrepreneurial spirit creating jobs. Earlier this month, the Ohio Board of Regents came to the aid of young, undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children. The board decided to grant in-state college tuition to those granted temporary legal status under a federal program.
The difference is substantial, most of the state’s two- and four-year colleges and universities regard undocumented immigrants as international or out-of-state students, charging more than double the rate for in-state students. The higher rate represents a substantial barrier to pursuing a key route to success in America.
That being so, it was particularly disappointing to see two lawmakers announce plans last week to introduce legislation to reverse the regents’ decision, which was based on legal advice from Mike DeWine, Ohio attorney general. Under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, undocumented immigrants can get two years of legal status. DeWine said such immigrants could receive in-state tuition if they meet the state’s other residency requirements.
Reps. Matt Lynch, a Bainbridge Township Republican, and Wes Retherford, a Hamilton Republican, fearing the loss of millions in tuition revenue, argue they are looking out for the interests of Ohio taxpayers. What they ignore are the long-term benefits that a well-educated work force brings, high levels of education translating into higher incomes and more tax dollars for the state.