Written by Dominic Dezzutti

The Board of Trustees of Metro State College of Denver voted last week to offer a new tuition rate to illegal immigrants. The rate is based on the Colorado ASSET Bill that failed in the Colorado Legislature this year. It is a rate that is less expensive than out-of-state rates, but higher than in-state tuition rates.

The decision has made some headlines, but it would be a much bigger story in Colorado this week if thousands of acres of forest weren’t burning right now.

One of the reasons that it is making headlines is because the decision is drawing criticism from noted Republicans. Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican state lawmaker from Evergreen who chairs the Joint Budget Committee decried the decision and openly said that there may be repercussions for Metro once the legislature comes back into session.

Joining the critics was Bruce Benson, a former GOP fundraiser and currently the President of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Benson said that the legislature made a different decision and that Metro shouldn’t be going against the policy that the legislature already decided.

Benson was also quick to point out that the problem really exists at the federal level since the federal government dictates what illegal immigrants receive in K-12 education, but makes no mention of any policies regarding higher education.

I believe the criticisms lobbed at Metro’s decision show the hypocrisy of the GOP stance on certain illegal immigration issues.

One of the hallmarks of the Republican Party platform is free-market capitalism. The GOP considers the free-market system as the key to the success of our economy and every solution of our economic woes revolves around making the system more free.

Yet, when an institution makes a decision that could very well bring in more students and thereby more tuition dollars, GOP critics want to step in and say that the institution isn’t following bureaucratic protocol.

If this was a private enterprise making widgets, these same GOP critics would be coming to its defense, saying it’s time for government to get out of the way. But since it is a state school, everything changes.

My question is why does the stance change simply because of the issue of illegal immigration?

Do GOP lawmakers actually see this as a benefit that will lure future illegal immigrants? Does paying more than in-state students really represent a reward for the illegal behavior of their parents that brought them to this country as small children?

Do Republicans really think that if these students are able to get a college education that they will want to live off the government dole and avoid paying taxes for the rest of their lives? Isn’t it likely that these students will want to become legal citizens once they receive a college education?

Frankly, with how expensive the legal immigration process is, illegal immigrants need to get a college education just so they can afford to correct the problem they inherited.

I realize that the current political atmosphere will not allow Republicans to be consistent on this issue. We will see more GOP lawmakers criticize the decision simply because being consistent on this issue will mean that they are soft on immigration and not a true conservative.

But if Republican candidates really wanted to be true conservatives, they should begin by staying true to one of the hallmark planks of the GOP platform. Any institutions that make decisions to improve themselves in the free-market should be defended, not threatened.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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