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Friday, October 28, 2016

A particularly cruel fate awaits the so-called DREAMers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They grow up knowing no other country than the United States, and may even think they are American citizens, but one day they learn they are not — and that they are vulnerable to deportation. They learn that opportunities and rights available to their schoolmates — ones they themselves had counted on enjoying — are off limits to them.

They must live forever in the shadows.

And that’s exactly where a lot of Americans — including the dominant right wing of the Republican Party — want to keep them.

Witness the repugnant move by Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature calculated to force certain DREAMers to drop out of college. These academically qualified, fee-paying students are allowed to attend state colleges without fear of deportation thanks to President Obama’s 2012 executive order, which made their presence in the U.S. lawful. They had been able to attend public colleges in Missouri at affordable in-state rates — until legislators tucked some extortionary language affecting tuition rates for these students into the preamble of the state’s higher education appropriations bill. Any institution that didn’t charge DREAMers foreign student tuition rates risked having funds in the appropriations bill yanked.

Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, signed the bill but maintains that the language isn’t legally binding because it didn’t go through the legislative process and is not in the bill’s text. Unfortunately, Missouri universities are complying. Letters are being issued to returning students, telling them of the change. They face a doubling or tripling of their tuition costs (depending on where they attend) as they enroll in the state’s universities and college’s this fall.

The University of Missouri system believes that 20 to 30 students currently enrolled across four campuses will be affected, but they expect the number to increase with incoming freshmen. Immigration attorneys think the number is far higher, saying that 40 such students are already enrolling at the university system’s Kansas City campus alone. And there are potentially far higher numbers of such students at community colleges and other schools.

The governor, the ACLU, immigration attorneys, high-school educators, and the state’s colleges and universities are all seeking ways to mitigate the damage.

A Facebook page and a GoFundMe account have been set up to raise the extra tuition fees these students will owe. Some students are being advised that they may need to transfer to state schools in Kansas because paying out-of-state rates there may still be cheaper paying foreign-student tuition rates in Missouri.

In fact, Kansas — renowned as ground zero of right-wing insanity — is one of about 20 states that charges in-state tuition for such students residing there. The Kansas Board of Regents has been among many strong voices protecting those students from similarly misguided attacks that pop up annually in Kansas.

There is little doubt that this sneak attack will be repeated by copycats in other states. After all, the Republican Party is locked in a death grip with anti-immigrant demagogues.

That’s a pity, because Republicans were once among these students’ greatest advocates. Sen. John McCain of Arizona was an early and prominent backer of the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. This bill, first introduced in 2001 and reintroduced numerous times since, would set up a multiphase process whereby people who came to this country illegally as kids — in other words, through no choice of their own — could apply for conditional residency and, after satisfying further qualifications, permanent residency.

Unfortunately, the students who would benefit have been political pawns for going on two decades. After Obama became president, erstwhile Republican supporters found reasons to withdraw their assent.

Disgusted with Congress’s stalling, Obama acted in 2012. He issued an executive order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. About 665,000 immigrants (4,885 in Missouri ) have qualified so far for the temporary, renewable reprieve from the fear of deportation, but not all of them are seeking a higher education. Many are working. The immigrants have filled out paperwork, gone through checks to certify their character, met education requirements, been fingerprinted and photographed and paid fees.

That rankles the anti-immigrant firebrands of the GOP. So they lash out at a blameless, vulnerable class of immigrants.

But these young DREAMers, by virtue of what they have already overcome, are twice the men and women that the legislators who attack them can ever dream of becoming. And whatever the other obstacles thrown in their path, they will overcome.

(Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or via email at [email protected])

Photo: Todd Dwyer via Flickr

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  • sue.berger2
  • KDJ54

    only a bully picks on those who are defenseless. We should not be surprised that Trump has, at least at this point, the top position in the Republican presidential race. He represents people just like those in the Missouri legislature which passed this bill. They are bullies all of them.

  • CrankyToo

    As if we need one more reason to despise Repugnican politicians and avoid Missouri.

  • 1standlastword

    The last time this country saw a class of people as calloused as the modern (G)ratuitous (O)ppression and (P)unishment was during the period of the colonial slavery of Blacks, the Indian wars and the slave labor of Chinese immigrants.

    The republicans running my state sought to fix our crumbling roads by uses of a proposal to permanently raise sales taxes (a regressive taxation on the working and fastly dissolving middle income earners). Well, they put it to a vote and it FAILED remarkably; so, what do they do now? A number of things but the most punishing of those is they eliminated the earned income tax credit! According to our Speaker of the Hosers “it’s not that much anyway”

    More evidence of pernicious republicanism!

  • Irishgrammy

    I will NEVER understand and WILL NEVER ACCEPT the constant attacks on Mexican Americans or immigrants by the Republicans! I was born and raised in Southern California and lived and went to school with Mexican Americans as well as many other racial and ethnic groups all my life, many friends and even family members that are Latinos! I know many T-Party hypocrites that use “undocumented” workers to do hard physical work because it’s “cheap” instead of paying a company which would cost more, and at the same time rail against Mexican laborers………sickening!!! I cannot begin to express how offended I am at the bigotry I have witnessed from the GOP, Donald Trump and so many others in the Republican party, let alone it’s horrible base voters that these politicans pander to when they should instead chastise them all for their bigotry and intolerance. PASS THE IMMIGRATION BILL that was sent to the House over a year ago. TAKE the bloviating hot air out of Trumps diatribes and put an end to this controversy that should not be one!!!! I am disgusted by the xenophobic, racist element in the cowardly Republican party driving the argument, vilifying an entire group of hard working, family oriented people who want the same thing from life as we all do!!!

    • Whatmeworry

      Bigotry against Mexican Americans is wrong an illegal. That isn’t what tea party members and republicans are against. They are opposed to ILLEGAL Mexicans huge difference. If you feel so strongly why not pony up the tuition difference?? OOOps that’s right LIbs never use their own $$$$

      • Sand_Cat

        As usual, you’re tone-deaf – to put it generously – and immune to fact, not worrying too much about the truth.

      • Irishgrammy

        “BIGOTRY” is NOT illegal. if that were the case jails/prisons would be over- flowing ……….and if you think I am buying what you are selling…. that it is the “illegal” part of undocumented immigrants that offends the T-Party sensibilities, you are beyond naïve! Next thing your going to try and pass is “a huge number of T-Party are not racists”……..sure, right, LOL!
        I personally KNOW far, far too many T-Party people, many for decades, who joined in with the “new” T-Party movement in 2010 because they were “shocked” this country elected it’s first African American President totally negating the fact, Barack Obama and Joe Biden were far superior to what was offered by Republicans…. 53% and 52% of Americans agreed….. TWICE! Some of the vile comments I have heard over the past 7 years has been depressingly intolerable and repugnant in the extreme!!! WHAT I know to be true and not true will not be changed by your “ILLEGAL OR NOT” fantasy argument……. And by the way I don’t mind my tax dollars going to educate anyone, anywhere, anytime! A more educated populace is FAR superior for this country and the world than a blindly ignorant one!!!

        • So Im a moron

          • Daniel Max Ketter

            You said it, not me!

          • dpaano

            Finally….you said something that makes sense!

        • Daniel Max Ketter

          Strange little man/woman is that whatmewory? He/she snivels over on fedsmith govt site because the post office wouldn’t hire him/her as a mail clerk, and then goes postal ranting bigotry on this site. I can see a connection.

      • Bigotry against REFUGEE Mexican Americans isn’t wong. That is what
        tea party members and republicans are against. They are also oopposed to LEGAL Mexicans huge difference. If you feel so stongly why not pony
        up the tuition diffffference?? OOOpps that’s right LIbs always use their own

      • Daniel Max Ketter

        Well, I hate to hear that. My boy Lewis is married to a mexican lady, and she’s the best daughter in law I’ve ever had, especially since my own daughter is a hiv crackhead. The taxpayers should support our neighbors to the south, Perhaps one day they will return our favor. God bless organized labor for their service to our country. Peace to all.

      • Eleanore Whitaker

        Your post is obtuse. Did you read Texas’s 2011 Riddle Law? No? Well, here it is: “Texas state Rep. Aaron Pena, a Republican, said the exception is a wise one.

        “With things as they are today, her bill will see a large
        segment of the Texas population in prison” if it passes without the
        exception, he said.

        “When it comes to household employees or yard workers it is
        extremely common for Texans to hire people who are likely undocumented
        workers,” Pena said. “It is so common it is overlooked.”

        The bills and other illegal immigration-related bills filed by
        Riddle and others reflect an increased pressure from constituents for action on
        the issue, Pena said. Because the federal government isn’t doing its job,
        residents press state officials to act, he said.

        Leo Berman, a Republican state representative, agreed that there
        was a stronger voice from Texas voters on the issue. “Absolutely,” he

        So TX doesn’t mind all of those illegals as housemaids and yard workers…and it loves the tens of billions for border patrol it gets every year from our states. So, you have all the answers right? Explain how TX allows hiring of illegals under Riddle’s Law and then bitches about illegals?

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Upset with Obama? Oh gee…Have the unicorn herds returned? Still don’t think the GOP bulls are a regime? The president acts according to the duties of the Executive branch and the GOP Regime goes ballistic? Really? And is this the GOP’s version of how to act like Kim Jung Un of North Korea? They are doing a grand imitation.

    First of all, Texas, Arizona and California have allowed illegal labor for nearly 100 years. How else would Texas get so BIG, Rich and a Whole Other Country if not for their cheap, Mexican labor?

    The GOP isn’t against illegals when it makes their bank accounts offshore flush with profits. They just don’t want their free source of cheap labor to have any rights

  • dpaano

    It’s pretty sad to see what this great country has become because of these right-wing idiots!