Daily Press & Argus
State Sen. Joe Hune’s proposal to block undocumented immigrants from receiving state benefits could clash with the University of Michigan’s decision to grant in-state tuition to undocumented students.
The U-M Board of Regents last week decided to let immigrants living in the country illegally pay lower, in-state tuition, a victory for activists who said one of the nation’s most prestigious schools is financially out of reach for high school graduates living in the state without legal permission.
Hune, R-Hamburg Township, introduced legislation in January that would block state benefits for undocumented immigrants living in the state, which arguably could include taxpayer-funded higher education.
Michigan universities are autonomous under the state constitution, however, which means Hune’s proposal may not apply at U-M.
It costs $13,100 for in-state tuition and fees at U-M, compared to nearly $40,400 for out-of-state students.
About 16 percent of U-M’s general fund comes from state taxpayer dollars, university officials said. Some of those funds could help offset in-state tuition costs for undocumented immigrants who otherwise would pay another roughly $27,000 to attend the university.
When introducing his bill, Hune included “education” in a list of services for undocumented immigrants he said cost Michigan taxpayers nearly $1 billion annually. His list of services for undocumented immigrants also included health-care, welfare, jail and human services costs.
“Michigan is among many states that are being inundated with illegal immigrants. The very least we can do is to make sure that these illegals receive no assistance from our state at the expense of our taxpayer dollars,” Hune said in a statement after introducing his bill.
Hune’s bill, Senate Joint Resolution K, would require a public vote because it would amend the state constitution. He introduced the same bill in the last term, but neither bill gained traction.
U-M officials and civil-liberties groups argued the policy, effective in January, opens the door to children who have lived in Michigan their entire lives, but whose parents are not documented citizens and can’t afford out-of-state costs. They point to reports that claim most undocumented immigrants pay state and federal taxes and do not overburden services.