New York Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis recently posted a link on her Facebook page to her self-written op-ed appearing on the Staten Island Advance’s website. In her letter, she discusses a recent New York Assembly bill that allows non-citizen children of undocumented immigrants to receive financial aid for college under certain circumstances. Malliotakis feels that this constitutes an unfair handout of New York taxpayer money to people who have no right to be in the country, and which should be used to help American taxpayers, not illegal immigrants:
Last weekend, Assembly Democrats announced legislation (A.10807) which would offer taxpayer-funded financial aid to illegal aliens attending college in New York.
I firmly believe that, in a time of fiscal uncertainty when education funding is scarce, this is an ill-conceived proposal. To take resources from American citizens to give to those who are in this country illegally is plain wrong … .
There are countless American citizens, including those born on American soil and immigrants registered through the proper channels, who are struggling to pay for college.
As someone who worked through college and came from a family that sacrificed to afford my education, I know the financial toll that tuition takes on a family.
With the average 2010 college graduate in New York facing more than $26,000 worth of student-loan debt, extending benefits to illegal aliens is wrong and unfair to legal American citizens who need support.
Of course, the only reason this would be unfair is if illegal immigrants were receiving something for nothing; in other words, if they weren’t paying any taxes at all. Indeed, this sentiment is readily on display in the facebook comments, some of which reek of outright hatred for one’s fellow man. Here’s a couple examples:
"Under what circumstances does ANYONE believe that illegals who do not pay taxes or contribute to Social Security are entitled to payouts?? If there is so much money in the budget I have 2 children in college who would like to attend for free.”
"My two sons have student loans looming over their heads and they can’t even find a jobs yet. Yet this government continues to fund forefingers [sic], give them opportunities while we the tax payers suffer.”
One commenter tried to get everyone to see the light of day:
[In order to qualify for aid,] the bill/existing-law requires that one must have attended at least 2 years and graduated from a NY high school. Those who would qualify must have been brought here by someone else when they were minors and basically grew up here just as their “legal” counterparts. In most cases they do not know they are different until they graduate high school and discover they’re out of luck for getting college education because of the current situation. Those who would qualify are basically American raised children who had no say about -nor comprehension of being brought here. Why are we trying to prevent them from being an added value to our society by continuing their education and instead pushing them to what would lead to bad things. I didn’t know about this till you posted about it and I am no Democrat (look at my postings), but aren’t there other ways to fix immigration issues without punishing and loosing who are (in effect) American children?
The immediate response was absolutely sickening:
[T]he failure of our government to deport their parents is the problem. We, the taxpayers, do not need to, and should not , pay for them. Let me give it to you straight, who helped my kid out? Her father and I work and paid taxes. She was born here. We sacrificed and did without to let her go to college, this way she would not have debt. My father saved also and she used that money, as well. How dare you suggest we, the middle class, support kids that are not our own? No one helps us, God knows, and the fact that these greedy people have their hands out yet again, is sickening. Where are the parents? Sending money to their homelands, if they do work and work off the books, and then tapping our taxpayer money? I have had enough of the grubbers.
Look at the trend in these comments. Every single person who opposes this bill is angry because they feel that illegal immigrants are either (a) getting something for nothing, or (b), living off of their tax dollars. They don’t seem to care that the bill only provides support in exceptional cases where a child has essentially been born and raised in America, but happens to be an illegal immigrant. They don’t seem to give a sh*t if a kid is a high-school valedictorian who we try to deport because, well, f#$% her for not being born in America. They don’t care that our zeal to visit untold political retribution on the families of illegal immigrants often results in tragic consequences that are unnecessarily cruel and inhumane, and in many cases, counterproductive.
But moreover, it is simply wrong that illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes. The Immigration Policy Center released a study in 2011 finding that illegal immigrants paid well over a billion dollars in state and local taxes in 2010. In New York, immigrants paid over $662 million in taxes. So this is not a case of illegal immigrants getting something for nothing. In the 2010-11 fiscal year, total New York tax receipts were roughly $39 billion. That means that tax receipts from illegal immigrants accounted for close to 2% of New York State tax revenues, while undocumented immigrants only accounted for roughly three percent of the population of New York State. If we take these numbers at face value, an estimated two out of every three illegal immigrants in New York are arguably paying their “fair share.” Deporting every single one of these illegal immigrants from New York would theoretically cost the state $662 million in tax revenues, with the accompanying reduction in services or increase in taxes that would be necessary to fill the budget gap.
This is yet another example of how a complete lack of contact with the people affected by a policy (how many of these individuals have ever actually met a family with illegal immigrants among its members?) tends to generate unabashed and completely unjustified resentment of the affected group. This lack of human contact allows otherwise decent folk to turn real people into abstract ideas by displacing their humanity with a nasty label. Undocumented immigrants cease to be people when we can simply call them “illegals.” We convert them from complex human beings into mere wrongdoers and freeloaders with a loaded label. And the human wreckage that follows from harsh immigration policies thereby gets lost in an abstract mixture of nationalism and enthocentric resentment, because they will never have to meet the people whose lives are shattered by overbearing immigration enforcement.
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