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Educating Undocumented Immigrants

            The question at hand is whether California should educate the children of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Educating the children of undocumented immigrants in the public school system and treating these students as in-state residents for the purpose of determining the tuition rate at a California State University is a smart choice for our state. I would argue that not only should the state provide educational benefits equally to all children residing in California, but that to fail to do so would result in greater costs to the state. These costs would be in the form of:.
              Decreased long-term tax base due to lower-wage earnings.
              Increased costs for law enforcement as a result of children not being in school.
              Potential increases in the costs of incarcerating juvenile and, over time, adult offenders.
              The inability to attract new businesses without a well-educated work force.
             In the mid-90s California voters approved Proposition 187, a bill that would allow school districts to deny educational services to children of immigrants that entered the U.S. illegally. Within hours of its passing, litigation ensued with detractors challenging the constitutionality of the new law. The newspapers were filled with headlines claiming the costs of illegal immigration far outpaced the tax revenues they generated. The court eventually ruled that many portions of the new law were unconstitutional and the right for all children in California to be educated was protected.
             Almost 10 years later and the headlines seem to declare that Californians have done an about face. California Assembly Bill 540 authorized the state universities to create a tuition exemption program that would allow certain nonresident students to pay the in-state rate for tuition. In the 2001-02 school year the reduction would save these students more than $10,000 in tuition costs.
             According to press releases from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service) there are an estimated 2,209,000 undocumented immigrants living in California.

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