SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) –
Students at Springfield Technical Community College rush to class Monday. They soon could have illegal immigrants sitting next to them in class. Governor Deval Patrick directed the Board of Higher Education to allow some immigrants to pay reduced tuitions at state schools. To qualify, the immigrants have to obtain a special federal permit.
“We think it will help more young people to go to college,” STCC President Ira Rubenzahl said. “Those young people will get better jobs, eventually become taxpayers, and pay more taxes.”
Rubenzahl says illegal immigrants currently pay about twice as much as in state residents.
“This is an investment in the future of these individuals. If you are not going to deport them, then we should make sure they are succesful in our economy. They are not taking jobs away from people,” Rubenzahl said.
He says for every dollar the state invests in, they get back seven. On campus, the jury on the new policy is still out.
“In my opinion, people whose not paying taxes, they shouldnt get the same benefits as us,” Denford Ward said.
“I think that immigrants come to this country in order to make a better future for themselves so why shouldn’t they get a chance to study and get all the same advantages that we get,” Kassandra Lopez said.
Many students we spoke with at STCC say if the illegal immigrants are going to get discounts, they should at least prove that they are on the right track to citizenship.
“There should be, if that going to be how it works, it should have some proof that they are becoming a citizen or at least trying to become a citizen of the United States,” Richard Kenyon said.
There are no estimates as to how many current illegal immigrants are expected to use the program. A rebate program has been established to reimburse students who already paid in full for a semester.