California Democrats led by Governor Gavin Newsom are enthusiastically moving forward with a bill introduced by Democratic Assemblyman David Alvarez in January that gives discounted college tuition to Mexican citizens.
According to The Washington Examiner, Alvarez claimed the legislation, recently signed into law by Newsom could potentially “unlock a significant untapped resource.” He suggested the five-year pilot program allowing Mexican nationals within 45 miles of the border discounted tuition will help grow the state’s workforce.
In a statement, Alvarez said, “We live in a dynamic border region where we need to educate more students to fill the jobs required for growth. This bill will allow low-income residents who live close to the border to attend local community colleges.”
“The law will create a 5-year pilot program that allows students who live in Mexico and within 45 miles of the California border an exemption from out-of-state tuition rates.”
“This pilot program can unlock a significant untapped resource to prepare a more diverse population among our workforce,” Alvarez said according to ABC7.
The program implements a “nonresident fee exemption,” for Mexican nationals, however, Alvarez noted “There are students who might actually be U.S. citizens but happen to be living in the Baja region because of the cost of living, So there are some students who find themselves in that situation who don’t have a California residence because families can’t afford to live here,” per The Los Angeles Times.
— AsmDavidAlvarez (@AsmDavidAlvarez) June 8, 2023
Dr. Mark Sanchez, Superintendent/President of Southwestern College in Chula Vista, CA added, “This is a transformational bill for the realities of our region. By expanding affordable access to our region’s community colleges, our binational students will be better equipped to enter our workforce and be a part of this thriving binational economy.”
The Democrat Assemblyman claimed that “Southern California and Northern Baja California operate as one megaregion, where over 170,000 people cross the international border daily for work, school, or leisure,” seemingly ignoring several hundred miles of the international border, two completely incompatible legal systems and the competing national sovereignties at play.
Stunningly, he based the law on a previous 2015 proposal to allow Nevadans near the state line to pay a discounted Tuition rate at Lake Tahoe Community College, one of the nearest major schools.
According to The Sacramento Bee the bill is projected to cost the state millions each year depending on how many students take advantage of Newsom’s largesse while the one-time cost will be $239,000 for local community colleges across five districts to implement the program. The outlet reported that “the average California community college tuition is $1,246 for in-state students and $6,603 for out-of-state students.”
Republican State Sen. Roger Niello voted against the bill for what he called “fiscal reasons” however, he also had questions on whether the bill would divert limited educational resources away from existing students in California Colleges.
Speaking to Fox & Friends in February, Bill Wells the mayor of El Cajon, located near the border at Tijuana said the law presents a “slippery slope” burdening California taxpayers and undermining border security.
“27% of the people that live in my town are Hispanic, and they’re asking me to make sure that we have low crime and good parks and safe streets. They don’t want me to be giving in-state tuition to people that live in other countries, foreign nationals, whether they be from Mexico or Ireland… people want us to be taking care of their kids and their community,” Wells said.
He added, “It’s really just kind of nibbling around the edges of the whole concept that borders just don’t matter, that we should just open up the borders and let anybody do whatever they want.”
“Where does it end? Do we give unemployment benefits to people that don’t live in the country? Do we give unemployment benefits to people that aren’t even citizens? Do we give a free attorney to somebody that we give health care to people that aren’t citizens?”