All Utah students are created equal

By By Chronicle Senior Staff

By Chronicle Senior Staff

A bill currently being considered by the Utah State Legislature has unfair and disturbing potential financial impacts for Utah high school students.

If passed, House Bill 7, sponsored by Rep. Glenn Donnelson, R-North Ogden, would mandate that high school graduates who are undocumented immigrants pay out-of-state tuition in order to attend in-state public universities.

The problems with this bill are manifold, the logic driving it flawed to say the least and its undertones of inequity and nationalism disturbing.

One contention with the bill is that, if passed, it would signify an unnecessary digression and reversal of current policy, which allows Utah students to pay in-state tuition for higher education regardless of citizenship. As the law stands now-rightly-Utah students who complete their Utah high school education, satisfying the state’s requirements of proficiency and capacity, are treated just as they have been for the duration of their in-state education-as equals.

Students whose parents immigrated to the United States or, for any number of other reasons, do not hold citizenship (including the fact that petitioning for citizenship in America is a gamble for any illegal immigrant and is as likely to result in deportation as naturalization) despite the fact that they hold jobs, pay more than their fair share of taxes and exist as contributing members of society, ought not to be marginalized.

These students more likely than not have no say whatsoever in their parents’ decision to immigrate, are minors and coexist in the K-12 educational system of Utah as contributors and statistical equals to their naturalized peers.

Simply put, non-naturalized students do everything their peers do, including live in and contribute to the state of Utah.

Why, then, would they be forced to abide divergent tuition standards?

Underlying House Bill 7 is a truly troubling value judgment, too, which, though never explicitly stated, is clear. By dissuading immigrant students from pursuing higher educations-which is undeniably going to be the effect of this bill-lawmakers are saying that these students are somehow less deserving, less capable and have less potential than their contemporaries.

Essentially, were we to impose such gross and inequitable value judgments, economic demands and educational strictures on our Utah students based on such flaccid rhetoric, we would be doing not only a disservice to our state’s public education systems, but we would also be painting ourselves a truly unflattering shade of biased.