Immigration Debate: What to do about scholarships in Arizona?

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Arizona students protest Proposition 300 (Photo courtesy of Cronkite News Service, ASU)Arizona students protest Proposition 300 (Photo courtesy of Cronkite News Service, ASU)In Arizona, voters approved a ballot measure in 2006, Proposition 300, which makes it illegal to use tax dollars to fund services for those not in the country legally. 

Not surprisingly, immigrant’s rights groups protested the measure as heartless and cold. While supporters of the proposition hailed it as a cost savings to Arizona taxpayers.

Given the Church’s admonition to take a more humane approach to the immigration debate, I would like to examine the impact that Proposition 300 has on students at Arizona’s universities and ask the readers of Millennial Star to propose humane solutions to the problem.

 I am not unsympathetic to cause of students with scholarships who were brought to America by their parents. On the news this morning, I heard a soundbite from an illegal immigrant on scholarship at Arizona State University who will not be able to afford the cost of in-state tuition. ASU had used private funds to extend the scholarships for these illegal immigrant students, but that money will dry up at the end of the semester. This student has aspirations of becoming a surgeon, but, unable to afford the cost of in-state tuition, will likely leave ASU and put her education on hold while she raises funds to pay for school.

Do we as Church members have a responsibility to petition government to re-examine Proposition 300 and the negative impact to these students? Alternatively, should we reach out to Arizona corporations and charities, asking them to assist these students with their tuition, or, open our own pocketbooks to assist? Do we as members of the Church have any responsibility whatsoever to the students impacted by this proposition?

I am anxious to hear your thoughts on this issue. You can read the arguments for and against Proposition 300 by clicking here.

30 thoughts on “Immigration Debate: What to do about scholarships in Arizona?

  1. I. Illegal immigrants qualify for “in-state” tuition in Arizona? That doesn’t seem consistent with the proposition.

    II. If any private entity is willing to grant scholarships, I believe the recipients would easily qualify for student visas.

  2. Mark,

    The illegal immigrants at ASU were granted scholarships with out-of-state tuition rates. Very costly to the foundation granting the funds.

    I like the idea of private entities getting involved with tuition and making it possible for these students to get student visas. I would be willing to donate funds to allow these students to finish their studies. Of course, I am not as excited about using tax dollars to accomplish this.

  3. Asking the legislature to reconsider Prop 300 or contributing toward private scholarships for affected students would both be praiseworthy acts consistent with the Church’s admonition to show compassion. Neither, however, should be considered one’s “responsibility” as a church member. There are many other equally worthy political and charitable causes that one could devote attention to.

  4. Brian, I think the Church position, as far as I understand it, is to remember that illegal immigrants are sons and daughters of God just as we are. It seems to me it is also a reminder that the Church’s growth has come internationally with the help of immigrants who have come to the United States — yes, some of them illegally because of our broken immigration process — and gone home to spread the Gospel elsewhere. It seems to me that we should remember that the vast majority of these illegal immigrants are simply trying to better their lives. The vast majority of them would immigrate legally if they could, but they simply cannot get visas because, again, our immigration process is broken.

    So, what should we do about the Arizona tuition situation? I’m not sure we have a responsibility to vote and/or lobby to overturn Proposition 300. But we certainly have a responsibility to have compassion toward our fellow brothers in sisters who are suffering.

    Personally, I think the best way to do that would be to work on legalizing the people who are here illegally and in many other ways fixing the immigration system so immigrants can come legally.

  5. What exactly constitutes this "admonition to take a more humane approach to the immigration debate"? How do we decide whether the comments of a few prominent individuals are simply personal opinions or church doctrine? If this is going to be considered church doctrine, I’d like to cannonize some of President Benson’s political opinions as well.

  6. I think the issue of scholarships ought be different from the issue of illegal immigration. After all I, as a Canadian, had no trouble securing scholarships. In state tuition I think should only be given to legal residents. But that ought apply to everyone. But scholarships ought be given based upon other criteria.

  7. Good point, Clark. I think this illegal immigrant student might argue that she qualifies for in-state tuition since she has been in Arizona for a majority of her life and that her parents brought her to the US illegally. Should the children of illegal immigrants be responsible for the faults/sins of the parents?

    Tossman, I have a former co-worker who would love to cannonize some of President Benson’s teachings, too. :-) I guess I’m just trying to explore what constitutes “more humane treatment” and how best to accomplish that admonition in this particular situation. Should we deny the daughter of illegal immigrants a scholarship simply because her parents brought her to the country illegally?

    Geoff, Amen! I think our system is in need of repair and overhaul. I just hope our elected officials can fix it soon!

  8. I think one of the keys to stopping illegal immigration is to reducing the incentives for them to illegally come here. So I look at this through the lens of reducing those incentives. Giving in-state tuition and government-sponsored scholarships is (in a long-term sense) an incentive. Therefore in-state tuition and government-sponsored scholarships should not go to illegal immigrants. Period.

    If I stole a car a decade ago and now my kid drives it, should it be exempt from being recovered by the police even though it’s benefiting my kid who didn’t steal it?

    Scholarships from private entities is one thing, but neither the anti-illegal immigration nor the pro-legal immigration causes are helped when the government sanctions illegal immigration.

    Besides, if the kid lived here her whole life- raised supposedly by law-abiding, assimilation-minded, America-loving parents, wouldn’t that kid be in an optimal position to attend a good school and get a great job back in Mexico? Wouldn’t Mexico benefit from a re-infusion of American-bred expats to their education system, government, economy?

  9. Tossman, I agree with most of what you say in your comment. We do need to remove the incentive for those who enter the country illegally.

    Your example of a stolen car doesn’t necessarily work for me. Although children should not benefit from their parent’s illegal actions, I do not think they should likewise be punished for those actions.

    Belive me, I am a staunch conservative when it comes to illegal immigration. I am simply trying to find middle ground in this situation. Putting myself in the place of these students, I can understand their plight and would like to find a way to allow them to finish their education in Arizona (without using tax dollars).

  10. The issue of in-state tuition is interesting. If my Dad is here on a Green Card and I’m his son but a foreigner, do I get residency such that I qualify for in-state tuition? If so, then what’s the problem?

  11. So much ignorance, so little time . . . .

    Mark D.’s suggestion that children of undocumented aliens could “easily qualify for student visas” is, sadly, not close to correct. A person who is in the U.S. out of status must return to his home country to obtain a non-immigrant visa. On facts like these: “I spent the last 8 years in Arizona with my parents, who sneaked me across the border when I was 9″ no consular officer other than Santa Claus would issue the visa. And, if the visa applicant was over 18 years and had been in the U.S. for 180 days since his birthday, the law would bar issuance of the visa for three years; if he had been in the U.S. for over one year since his 18th birthday, the law would bar issuance of that visa for 10 years. Even if the consul was Santa Claus.

    I enjoy the common misspelling of “canonize.” It makes me think of putting those sayings I don’t like into a cannon and shooting them off into nowheresville. So, I’ll agree with “cannonizing” most of the political statements of Bro. Benson.

    Tossman is right about reducing incentives for people to come here illegally. The best way to do that is to have a recession–or, better yet, a depression. That will not only reduce the incentives to come, but will likely encourage many to leave for happier shores. Let’s hear it for a depression! That’ll solve the problem of illegal immigration.

  12. Because working in this country requires the presentation of legal documents an illegal alien who works is committing fraud. The temple recommend questions says are you honest in your dealings with others.

    The humane way to deal with breaking of laws is to tell people to stop doing it and exerting all moral authority for it to stop.

    The brethren can say what they want but if they teach expediency they will get expediency and it won’t be just in regard to immigration.

    Undermining legitimate authority in one area tends to undermine all legitimate authority including the authority of the priesthood.

    “There is a law irrevoccably decreed….”

  13. aloysiusmiller, are you saying that the Brethren are wrong to advocate a humane approach to the immigration debate? Political expediency? How so?

  14. It’s interesting since there are foreign students (especially Canadians) who can’t work regular jobs legally but they can do lots of small odds and ends to earn money. (Say eBay stuff) Lots do. Are they in the wrong?

    Don’t get me wrong I decry the double standards applied to Mexican illegal immigrants. (i.e. that they get special beneficial treatment not given to Asians or Africans) However I also decry holding them to a double standard where they are treated worse than Canadians or Europeans.

  15. Brian Duffin, nothing wrong with being humane as long as the message doesn’t turn into toleration for illegal behavior. I support the brethren. I haven’t parsed all their statements but the evidence of the reaction to them on LDS blogs is that “humane” = acceptance of behavior.

    What message does a Bishop (who is trying to be humane) send when he asks a known illegal if he is honest in his dealings when he knows full well that the person he is interviewing is working without a SSN or has forged one? What goes on in their heads? (The Bishop and the member) How does that translate into every other aspect of integrity?

  16. Aloysius, I am a pro-immigrant and pro-immigration person, but you have given me some food for thought. I don’t think we can ignore some of the issues you raise.

    I have no idea how I’d handle it if I were a bishop, having never been one, but I think I know how I’d handle it if I were a home teacher. If somebody I was home teaching came to me and asked for moral advice on immigration issues, I would certainly encourage them to become legal or go home.

    You may or may not know that a very large number of illegal immigrants are trying to become legal. They submitted papers to the government and are in legal limbo of one kind or another.

    So, if the bishop would ask them, “have you been honest” they could honestly say they had been because they are trying to become legal. If they are making a conscious effort to become legal and cannot because of government bureaucracy, does that mean they are not being honest.

  17. But Geoff, the fact that they illegally entered the country, are illegally remaining here, and are benefiting from government whose laws they breaking is enough to sink your honesty argument. Were I a bishop, I think I’d have a problem with that. If you’re here illegally- go home. Strengthen and support your ward down there.

  18. Aloysius is right that the laws now require (and have for 22 years) that prospective employees present documents to their employers to prove identity and the legal right to work in the U.S. I hope he isn’t surprised that many employers don’t ask for those documents, and that many of us would think that requirement silly.

    For example, when we hire the babysitter for Friday night, do we ask for evidence that she is a citizen or an alien authorized to work in the U.S.? Do we give her a 1099 at the end of the year if the total we’ve paid her reaches the regulatory minimum?

    Is the babysitter committing fraud if she doesn’t present those documents?

    But, you say, that’s part-time, occasional work. It’s different when full-time employment is involved. Really? How?

    And, calling that employment relationship “fraud” is pretty strong–and it’s wrong. Who’s being defrauded? And what’s being taken from them? If the employee works and gives value in exchange for his wages, who loses? Are you suggesting that the undocumented worker should give back his wages because he wasn’t “authorized” to work? If so, who’s being cheated out of the value earned through the labor?

  19. Mark B.- We believe in following the laws of the land- whether or not we think those laws are impractical or silly. You don’t like a law, you campaign to change it. You don’t break it and hope to be validated when the law at some point swings in your favor.

  20. Mark B. has a very good point. Can I see a show of hand from people who issue 1099s to baby sitters and the kid who mows your lawn? Payments totalling over $600 require a 1099 and violation of tax laws is a federal crime.

    Also – When you bought lemonade from the kid’s stand on the corner and he didn’t charge sales tax, did you speak up and demand to do your duty as a law-abiding citizen? If not, you are aiding and abetting a scofflaw.

    If your neighbor has done you a favor that has monetary value, (fix your car, say) and you repay the favor by doing something nice for him, you are part of the underground economy, purposely evading taxes, and the IRS takes a very dim view of your activities. You are supposed to report the goods or services you exchanged on your 1040. If you don’t, you’re no better than a drug dealer, rapist, or illegal alien. Get off your high horses, people.

    aloysius,tossman, et.al.: Your questions about bishops asking questions re: honoring the law have already been answered. A letter came out several years ago from the 1P instructing SPs and bishops that a person’s immigration status as legal or illegal did not constitute grounds for denial of a recommend and should not even be inquired into. Neither is it grounds for denial of fast offering assistance if they are otherwise worthy. By taking the position you have taken, you have placed yourselves in an interesting position viz a viz priesthood authority. Please don’t denounce the Danzigs too vociferously.

  21. Tossman–I’m not sure who you’re referring to as “we” in that comment. As a historical matter, it doesn’t describe the church’s actions in the 19th century, nor does it describe the actions of those whom we in the church honor as wise men raised up by the Lord to accomplish his purposes.

    But, I would be interested in how you “follow” the laws of the land relating to employment when it comes to babysitters, lawn mowers, snow shovelers, etc. Do you complete a Form I-9, view social security cards and birth certificates (or other evidence of right to accept employment), obtain a Form W-4 from the employee and keep copies in your files? Do you withhold payroll taxes as required, and file W-2 forms at the end of the year reporting the wages paid and the taxes withheld? And, do you consider yourself a lawbreaker and a fraud if you don’t do these things?

  22. Mark B.- Funny you should ask about the babysitting. My kids only stay with family and have never been babysat by anybody else. Ever. We don’t trust anybody.

    I mow my own lawn, shovel my own snow, etc. As a manager at my work, I know my company checks citizenship status, views social security cards, properly file and document all tax information.

    I would consider myself a fraud and a liar if I didn’t do these things, and I’d probably have to answer that way in a temple recommend interview.

    Like I said, just because we think certain laws are impractical or dumb doesn’t give us the legal or moral right to break them.

    Mark IV- Can you please produce that letter? You know, the one that puts me in “an interesting position viz a viz priesthood authority”?

  23. So, Tossman, I suppose you’ll just have to follow Atticus Finch’s advice and find someone else’s moccasins to walk around in for awhile.

  24. I called my brother this afternoon who served as a Bishop in a heavily Hispanic area from 2001 to 2007 and asked him about this letter. He had no recollection of any such instruction. Please provide date and text if such a letter exists.

    He did tell me that missionaries had recently told him that the mission president does not allow them to baptize illegals.

    I don’t suppose any Bishop asks anyone during a temple recommend interview if they are illegal because they have been trained to ask the temple recommend questions and nothing else. The answers are the responsibility of the candidate for a temple recommend not the Bishop.

    There are many other opportunities for some of this kind of information to come out and for a Bishop to provide counsel directed by the Holy Ghost. I would be careful if I were a Bishop to counsel anyone to defy the law if I expected them to take my authority seriously.

  25. From the article:

    “It turns out somehow they’ve ended up in the United States, and they have citizenship nowhere.”

    Yeah, I hate when that happens. It’s amazing how easy it is to just accidentally turn up in a foreign country undocumented. Why just last week I somehow turned up in China. I went looking for the government assistance office but couldn’t find it because everything was written in Chinese (the nerve)!

    Sarcasm aside, I’m glad to see 1) that we have what looks like a viable solution to the issue, and 2) that that solution is coming from the private sector.

    Win-win scenario.

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