Editorial: America is a nation of (illegal) immigrants

VICTOR-TORRES-DWIGHT-BULLARDMuch ado is made of St Augustine’s heritage — we are truly a “melting pot” that includes Spanish, Minorcan, and a host of other European settlers, African, Cuban and islanders from other Caribbean nations; some who traveled here willingly and some who did not.

Of course the expression that we are “a nation of immigrants” is not completely true; unless you don’t consider the Timucuan and other “Native Americans” who are truly indigenous and did not emigrate from anywhere — settling these lands ages before the Europeans.

The democratic principles that led to the founding of America, and the establishment of our federalist form of government, are based on a written Constitution and define us as a nation of laws. When those who lead our government turn their backs on those laws; it is time to find some new government leaders.

We hold our citizens accountable for their actions — and reward them for their good citizenship with more job opportunities, political freedom, higher pay, better schools and other social programs. If our leaders give away the benefits of citizenship to non-citizens, where is the incentive to ever legally become a citizen?

If during the last legislative session, three bills in the House and two in the Senate, that would have allowed illegal, undocumented students to receive discounted “in state” tuition, failed to pass out of committee, and past efforts dating back nearly a decade, all have failed to be enacted, then why would Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami and Rep. Victor Torres Jr., D-Orlando, be renewing a push to grant undocumented students the lower tuition rates at our state universities?

“They are doing what every citizen does in the state of Florida, but guess what? They are not receiving the same benefit as a result,” Bullard said. “I feel this is a civil rights issue.”

Current rules require undocumented students to pay between two to four times as much in tuition as other in-state students. If the student is undocumented then they must file an affidavit with the university stating they will file an application to legalize their status as soon as they are eligible.

In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court gave undocumented immigrants the right to attend public schools through the 12th grade. Sixteen states have laws allowing undocumented students who have attended in-state secondary schools to pay the same tuition as a state resident who is a U.S. citizen.

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