Friday, May 29, 2009
The president of Harvard University caused a stir last week when she pledged support for a federal bill that would provide legal residency to some illegal immigrant students.
The Boston Globe reports that President Drew Gilpin Faust’s backing of the Dream Act surprised students and drew criticism from opponents of the act.
In a letter to federal lawmakers, Faust called the legislation a "life line" for some students. The legislation would allow young illegal immigrants a path to legal residency if they attend two years of college or military service. She acknowledged that students with "immigration status issues" attend Harvard.
Last year in North Carolina, the board of the state’s two-year college system stopped a longtime practice of allowing illegal immigrants to enroll at 58 campuses under out-of-state tuition rates.
In a preliminary report, a board consultant said the state could profit from admitting undocumented students because they would pay $1,650 more in tuition than it costs to allow them to attend.
Faust is the latest leader to pledge support for the controversial bill. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently told Congress she supports the bill. Last month, the College Board, made up of more than 5,000 colleges and universities, announced its backing of the legislation.
"I believe it is in our best interest to educate all students to their full potential - it vastly improves their lives and grows our communities and economy," Faust wrote in a letter to members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation who support the bill.
Opponents of the legislation, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said Harvard should not admit illegal immigrants because they displace students here legally.
"Maybe the elites at Harvard should come down from their ivory tower and get some ground perspective on what kind of cost and competition that legal U.S. residents are actually incurring these days," said Bob Dane, spokesman for FAIR.