Oregon Opportunity Grants for illegal immigrants is a bad idea

The Argus Observer
Guest opinion
Oregon Opportunity Grants for illegal immigrants is a bad idea

Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2015 12:00 am

David Olen Cross |

Sens. Peter Courtney of Salem and Michael Dembrow (Portland) along with Reps. Betty Komp (Woodburn), Jessica Vega Peterson (Portland) and Joe Gallegos’ (Hillsboro) sponsorship of Senate Bill 932, legislation that would grant access to Oregon Opportunity Grants to illegal immigrants, makes these legislators seem tone death to the will of nearly 1 million Oregon voters (66 percent) who less than eight months ago rejected during the 2014 general election Measure 88, legislation that would have granted state-issued driver cards to illegal immigrants.

By a 2 to 1 margin, voters defeated Measure 88, indicating that Oregon voters are very opposed to the idea of providing illegal immigrants any form of state benefit, like a state-issued identity, that would validate their presence in the state.

Senate Bill 932 in a very clear way validates the presence of illegal immigrants in the state by granting them the benefit of equal access to Oregon Opportunity Grants.

This school year, only 30 percent of the 120,000 Oregon students eligible obtained a taxpayer-funded Oregon Opportunity Grant.

Currently there are not enough state monies available to fund Oregon Opportunity Grants for all American citizen Oregon students, let alone for persons illegally in the state.

The financial impact of SB 932 on the state’s taxpayers is the legislation could require the state of Oregon to write a check in the amount of up to $2,100 for the 2015-2016 school years to each illegal immigrant who applies and is accepted to receive a grant.

Over the period of time that it takes to complete a traditional four-year college education, an individual illegal immigrant could receive as much as $8,400 in state opportunity grants.

Earlier this year, Rep. Jessica Vega Peterson estimated that 76 illegal immigrants living in the state could be eligible to receive opportunity grants.

Doing the math on 76 illegal immigrants receiving Oregon Opportunity Grants for a period of from one to four years could cost the state’s taxpayers between $159,600 and $638,400.

The state government administrative costs for giving illegal immigrants opportunity grants are estimated to be over the next four years $144,499.

The preceding numbers very likely underestimate the total number of illegal residents who might actually receive the opportunity grants in the future because, according to the Pew Research Center, there are 120,000 unauthorized residents living in Oregon.

A final troubling fact about SB 932 is the sponsors of the legislation have placed an emergency clause on the Senate bill, which means Oregonians opposing this legislation would be prevented from using the state’s referendum process to put this issue of whether illegal immigrants  should get access opportunity grants before the state’s voters.

Oregon voters who reject the idea of granting the benefit of Oregon Opportunity Grants to illegal immigrants, a legislative action that validates their presence in the state, should contact their state senator and representative and tell them to vote no on SB 932.

David Olen Cross of Salem writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com .


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