UALR chancellor urges DREAM Act | Arkansas Blog

UALR chancellor urges DREAM Act

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WALKING TALL: UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson (right) walking with student on campus.
  • WALKING TALL: UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson (right) walking with student on campus.
I got another reason today to like UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson besides his quiet leadership, his modest ways (no housing upgrade or flashy car in his tenure) and, most of all, his dedication to a calling beyond building sidewalks or a football team or artificially inflating enrollment.

His annual survey on community racial attitudes is always a useful reminder of distance yet to travel. His establishment of an Institute on Race and Ethnicity and promise to make it a meaningful contributor is another demonstration of his commitment to human rights. And then there's this:

Anderson went before the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees today to urge the Arkansas legislature and Congress to approve the DREAM Act and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Add Anderson, with Mike Huckabee, to the short list of Republicans who do honor, at least on this topic, to Lincoln's legacy.

The UA Board didn't act. Wusses. People who've lived for years in Arkansas and succeeded at high school should be given the path to citizenship provided by the DREAM Act. They certainly shouldn't be forced to pay more for college than blueblood kids from Highland Park, Texas whose houses are cleaned by "illegal aliens." That's the practice at Arkansas's flagship university now — in-state tuition for Texans but not for many Arkansans born outside the U.S. None dare call that justice.

The UALR release:

UALR Chancellor Joel E. Anderson urged Congress and the Arkansas legislature to separate controversial job and border security issues from federal and state DREAM Act legislation and allow in-state tuition rates for children of illegal aliens.

Speaking before the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees meeting on his campus, Anderson said children who have lived in the state for years and graduated from state high schools are being forced to pay out-of-state tuition rates because their parents are not citizens.

The DREAM Act — Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — would provide conditional permanent residency to certain illegal aliens of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment. It would offer them paths to citizenship by serving in the military or obtaining a degree. It also would allow states to consider them in-state students for tuition rate purpose.

Opponents of the DREAM Act have argued that it encourages and rewards illegal immigration. Other stands include viewing it as importing poverty and cheap labor.

Anderson urged lawmakers on the federal and state levels to put aside their legitimate concerns about all immigration issues and focus on this one educational piece.

“The key to passing this in Congress or something similar in the Arkansas legislature is to separate that educational piece from the other controversies that are, in a lot of ways, legitimate concerns regarding immigration policy,” he said.

The questions about whether a border fence is needed, what impact immigration is having on the job market, or what kind of guest worker program is best need debate, he said.

“I think good people can have different opinions on those things. I would like to see people who have those differences of opinion get working on compromising on them,” the chancellor added. “I wish we could overcome the paralysis we have in this country on that.”

He also said the DREAM Act is the right thing to do.

“I think if enough of us would stand up and speak to it, the people of this country on a bipartisan basis could say, you know, ‘that’s right,’” he said. “If we let those students who want to go to college … if we would open the door to them, yes, it would be good for them, a good humanitarian thing to do. But it would be good for all of us. We ought to be able to say, ‘we can get together on that.’’’

Anderson said he has long expressed his opinion on the subject before committees of the legislature and he may be seen as having ulterior enrollment motives for supporting the DREAM Act. He said he was more interested in doing the right thing.

“I’ll say to you or anyone else, if the Congress or the legislature would open the door to these students on every campus in the state except mine, I’ll say ‘do it.’ That would be a great step forward.”

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