Should Illegal Aliens Receive Welfare and Racial Preferences?

The Senate is currently weighing an immigration deal supported by Ted Kennedy and George Bush that would provide amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens.  

(Supporters of the bill argue that the deal is not amnesty because it requires illegal aliens to pay a modest “fine.”  For a “fine” of $1,000 per head of household, plus $500 per additional household member, illegal aliens can stay in the U.S.  The modest nature of these “fines” becomes apparent when you realize that starting this summer, legal immigrants will be charged $1,010 just for getting their green card, which is just one of the many stages they pass through to become citizens). 

A sensible immigration deal would liberalize restrictions on immigration, but not allow those who were once illegal aliens to receive more in government benefits, such as food stamps, federal disability payments, and social security, than they pay in taxes.

The immigration deal doesn’t appear to do that.   As the Washington Times points out, within a decade after they are amnestied, illegal aliens will become eligible for all sorts of government benefits, and will receive far more in government benefits than they will pay in taxes.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) wants to change that.  He will propose a sensible amendment to the immigration deal to prevent those who were once illegal aliens from receiving the Earned-Income Tax Credit, which results in many low-income households receiving money from the government rather than paying taxes. 

But Senator Sessions’ past attempts to limit the EITC to citizens and lawful permanent residents have been rejected by the Senate after lobbying by liberal advocacy groups.

These liberal advocacy groups have great sympathy for illegal aliens, but little concern about legal immigrants like my wife, a French and Spanish-speaking immigrant. 

When Washington State passed a law allowing alien high-school students who lived in the State for several years to receive in-state tuition at state colleges, these advocacy groups were shocked to learn that legal aliens — not just illegal aliens — were receiving in-state tuition.

They promptly got State Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney to introduce legislation excluding legal aliens from the law so that only law-breaking illegal aliens could receive the discount in tuition.  The Seattle Times, which ardently supports race-based affirmative action, endorsed the legislation in a Nov. 24, 2004 editorial, “Hone Tuition Law for Intended Students,” which advocated excluding legal aliens from the benefit based on their lawful presence in the United States.

Black businessman Ward Connerly, a critic of racial set-asides, has sensibly proposed that illegal aliens amnestied under the immigration deal not receive racial preferences in college admissions. 

In fact, illegal aliens already receive racial preference now, if they are Mexican.  I once worked as a lawyer in a lawsuit against the University of Washington’s law school, and I personally saw how Mexican illegal aliens were admitted despite having grades and test scores that would be considered inadequate for a white applicant.

People who were once illegal aliens also should not be eligible for racial set-asides in contracting, since they were not even present in America during the era of segregation. 

Racial preferences in contracting cost the taxpayer a lot of money.  For example, consider the 1994  Domar Electric case, a California Supreme Court decision upholding a relatively-mild Los Angeles affirmative action ordinance.  That decision nevertheless resulted in taxpayers paying nearly $4 million for a contract that the contractor’s white competitor, the low-bidder, would have performed for $3.3 million.   That single instance of affirmative action cost taxpayers nearly $700,000.