Should illegal immigrants have access to the same public benefits as American citizens? Shockingly, the Minnesota government just answered that question in the affirmative, passing new laws that add a slew of public benefits to illegal immigrants.
One such new benefit is free college tuition for illegal immigrant families making $80,000 or less. According to Axios, illegal immigrants are eligible for Minnesota’s “North Star Promise” program. That program provides free tuition for any two or four-year program within the University of Minnesota or Minnesota state education systems for households in the state, now including illegal immigrant households, making $80,000 or less a year. Tribal colleges are also included in the program.
In addition to the income requirement, to qualify for the North Star Promise program students must submit a FAFSA form, remain in good academic standing, and have either graduated from a Minnesota high school or have lived in Minnesota for 12 months without having been enrolled in college for more than half that time. Minnesota already allowed both scholarships and in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students.
According to the Associated Press, which also reported on the program, the North Star Promise initiative will cost $117 million in the fiscal year beginning on July 1 of 2023, as large start-up costs are involved. Then it will cost about $49.5 million for every year thereafter.
Democratic state Senate Higher Education Chair Omar Fateh, justifying that initiative in his statement to Axios, said, “We want to make sure that when we’re expanding opportunities for everybody, we’re doing it for all Minnesotans, regardless of background, regardless of their documentation status.” Fateh also said, as the AP reported, “We’ve been seeing declining enrollment on all campuses. If we don’t do something quick, we’re at risk of shutting down some campuses. … I see this bill as an enrollment driver.”
The only Republican on the committee that came up with the free tuition for illegals plan claimed to have been “completely frozen out of all discussions.”
And the free college tuition isn’t all. According to Axios, other recently passed laws allow individuals to both obtain driver’s licenses and access MinnesotaCare, the state’s low-income public healthcare program, regardless of immigration status.
The Minnesota Reformer reported that when the MinnesotaCare program was expanded to allow illegal immigrants access to it, more than 40,000 illegal immigrants who met the low income requirement for it were expected to be included in the program. Minnesota aims to begin enrolling those low income illegal immigrants in 2025.
Rep. Tina Liebling defended expanding the program by claiming that it would be helpful to hospitals that otherwise have to eat the costs of providing healthcare to those that can’t pay, saying, “This is huge to be able to offer them health insurance, and it will be huge for hospitals. Because when people show up at a hospital and they don’t have coverage, the hospital has to pay for it.”
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