On Deval Patrick's Tuition Plan the Press Fails Again

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I don't see how the federal government is expected to do anything about the millions of U.S. migrants living in fear when the press does a miserable job of informing the public.  Over the past few days, I've seen the Associated Press blast the comments of Governor Deval Patrick across the nation and fail to accurately inform readers about the context surrounding those comments.
(Picture from the Boston Herald) 

I encourage everyone to write a letter to the editor and leave comments on the websites of the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Houston Chronicle, The New Bedford Standard-Times, the Worcester Telegram, and the Berkshire Eagle.  It is especially important that people write letters to the editors of these papers to counter the inevitable firestorm that will play out in the editorial sections.
When Deval Patrick was running for Massachusetts Governor, he said multiple times he was in favor of providing in-state tuition to the children of migrants "who qualify in every other way to be an in-state student".  When Gov. Patrick was elected only a year ago he ran on a heavily pro-migrant platform.  The Associated Press article fails to mention this, making it seem as if this plan is coming off the heals of a major defeat.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick said yesterday he’s looking into whether he can skirt the state Legislature by unilaterally allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges

Patrick’s revelation touched off strong reaction on Beacon Hill, where House lawmakers two years ago defied Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, D-Boston, and defeated a bill that would let those immigrant students pay the same rate as their high school classmates.
To mention the legislative defeat, without mentioning that Patrick won a major electoral victory advocating on behalf of migrants, falsely makes it seem as if Massachusetts citizens are against this.  In a follow-up Boston Herald article Republican House Minority Leader Rep. Bradley H. Jones goes so far as to accuse Patrick of running the state "like a kingdom or monarchy." 

Not true.  Republicans lost the 2006 Massachusetts State elections even though Patrick was constantly barraged with attack ads for his pro-migrant positions.  To mention the legislative defeat and not the 2006 elections that followed it in which Democrats took both the House and the Senate is extremely misleading.

The Associated Press article that has been blasted across the nation also fails to distinguish between two very conflicting statistics about the plan to provide the children of migrants with in-state tuition.

One estimate says it would cost Massachusetts about $15 million to provide the tuition cut. But the governor’s office highlighted a Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report from 2006 that said it would generate $2.5 million in revenue because up to 600 new students might enroll.
It is completely irresponsible to give both of these estimates equal weight.  The $15 million estimate is determined by arithmetic that a middle school student could do.  It's certainly not an estimate that should legitimately brought into the policy debate.   This is a distinction that other articles concede:

For 400 students, the cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition over four years of education would be about $15 million.
A real estimate like the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report (pdf) actually reports that Massachusetts would receive $2.5 million in additional revenue.  In other words, taxpayers actually benefit from giving migrant youth in-state tuition, because it would be added revenue that the State wouldn't receive otherwise, and it would be of negligible cost to the State to admit these students since there are so few of them.

Another take is that of the blog Media Nation in the post "Fake outrage over a non-issue".

The talk shows are already going nuts over Gov. Deval Patrick's statement that he may issue an executive order allowing illegal immigrants who live in Massachusetts to pay the in-state tuition rate at public colleges or universities (Globe story here; Herald story here).

But Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, appearing this morning on Tom Finneran's show on WRKO (AM 680), said at least twice that such immigrants would be eligible only if they can document that they are in the process of seeking legal status. He also said there would only be about 400 or 500 eligible kids.

Not a big deal. Then again, we already know that anger over illegal immigration is one of those phony issues that doesn't extend much beyond Talk Show Nation. Just ask Mitt Romney how his tough-guy talk played in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that behind all the statistics and misinformation are real human beings.  These are children that in most cases didn't have a choice when they were brought to the United States.  They go to the same schools and learn the same customs as the Massachusetts student that sits right next to them in class.  The only sin these children committed was obeying their parents. 

If giving 500 talented students that have excelled against all odds is not a financial burden to Massachusetts, then it become a simple question of whether or not they morally should or shouldn't have access to the same privileges that that the people sitting next to them do.  If these migrant children don't get in-state tuition Massachusetts where do they go to college?  They don't because they are human beings without a country.  To some if you don't have a country you're not a human being.

If you do believe these migrants are human beings than I encourage you to write letters to the editors of the the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Houston Chronicle, The New Bedford Standard-Times, the Worcester Telegram, and the Berkshire Eagle.  It's time to hold the press to account.  It's the press' job to inform the public, and they haven't done so.

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This page contains a single entry by Kyle de Beausset published on January 11, 2008 2:23 PM.

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