Phi Beta Cons

The Sins of the Parents

The Washington Post ran a story this week on the thorny issue of illegal immigrants and higher education. The article points out that, while these students have a Supreme Court–granted right to public education up through high school, it’s difficult for them to go to college.

The problem isn’t that applying to college will get them deported, but that they have trouble paying for it: “About 65,000 illegal immigrants graduate from U.S. high schools every year, unable to work legally and often unable to afford college without access to in-state tuition or government-backed financial aid, according to the Urban Institute.”

I’ve interviewed some illegal immigrant children about the subject, and it is not hard to feel bad for them. After all, their parents broke the law, and as a result they have to watch their peers receive benefits they don’t have access to.


But what’s important — and what the WaPo article doesn’t address (so much for balance) — is the question of incentives. One of the main reasons that parents come here illegally is to give their kids better opportunities. As noble a goal as that may be, for government to help them realize it only encourages more illegal immigration.


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