Favorite

Brown is the new black 

When the Department of Higher Education announced after examining the Social Security numbers of every college student in Arkansas that there were very few children of unauthorized immigrants attending college, I wasn't sure how to take it.

The newspaper stories read like good news: “Whew, the Mexicans aren't goin' to college after all” was the message between the lines. Isn't the world upside down when the pro-education governor of a state that is 50th in college graduates is relieved to learn that kids are not attending college in his state?

I know, these are the children of illegal immigrants and they don't have a right to be here. And I say, so what? They're here, if history is any guide they aren't leaving, and it's in our interest to see that as many children as possible go to college.

If a child has lived here for three years and graduates from an Arkansas high school, we charge him about $11,000 (in-state tuition) a year to go to college. If he went to school and graduated from another state, we charge him about double (out-of-state tuition), on the legitimate assumption his family has not been paying taxes here and supporting the schools.

But with the children of unauthorized immigrants, we just pretend they haven't lived here for three years and we pretend they haven't just graduated from Central High School. Then we pretend their family hasn't been paying sales taxes and income taxes (which are deducted from their paycheck using that fake Social Security number) for all the years they have been here. We pretend they don't exist when they are our neighbors, our co-workers and our fellow human beings. They are the poorest among us and we make it twice as expensive for their kids to get an education. Now tell me again what Jesus would do.

Let's compromise. The rationale for out-of-state tuition is that the student's family hasn't been paying state taxes. So if a kid's family can show they have been paying state income taxes for the last three years while living here for at least three years and graduating from an Arkansas high school, we treat him like the kids he graduated with. Fair enough?

President Reagan pushed through a federal law in the late 1980s that said if a worker here without papers could prove he had paid his taxes and had not broken a criminal law, he could get on track for legal residence and ultimately citizenship. My guess is, something similar to the Reagan plan is going to be enacted in the next few years. A government that can't evacuate 60,000 people from New Orleans will be hard-pressed to deport 10 million or 12 million people to Mexico.

Let's stop pretending. Whether we like it or not, we have about 200,000 Latinos living in Arkansas, and chances are their children and grandchildren will be living here years from now. We can maximize their potential or we can throw up roadblocks and keep them uneducated and poor. The demagogues whipping up fear of Latinos and immigrants of all stripes are the same ones that spewed their lies and hatred against blacks in the 1950s. Brown is the new black when it comes to bigotry and this is the civil rights issue of our era.

The question is, which side are you on?

 

Alan Leveritt is publisher of the Arkansas Times.

 

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Alan Leveritt

  • A sweetness worth the stings

    My uncle Elzie kept his bee hives in amongst the wrecked cars and other metal debris behind his house on the High­way 160 out­side of Smack­over.
    • Sep 23, 2015
  • Leveritt: Life on the farm

    In late afternoon, looking over the pasture from my mother's hillside grave, our farm may be the most beautiful place on earth.
    • Oct 3, 2013
  • The Arkansas Times introduces digital membership

    We can’t continue to produce aggressive, trenchant, independent reporting and analysis without increased reader support. A new model for funding, in which readers bear a share of our costs, is vital to the future of the Times.
    • Jul 25, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas condones child abuse?

    If Harrises and Duggars go unpunished, yes.
    • Jun 4, 2015
  • Must address racial inequities

    We mourn for the families of the dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. As we grieve it's time to rekindle a conversation about race in America and press for the changes that the Emanuel congregation championed for centuries — changes that also made it a target.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Racism is systemic

    In a speech on Sunday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Gov. Asa Hutchinson played directly into the narrative of respectability politics, where white people tell people of color how they should respond to a situation and condemn responses from others in the community experiencing anger, rage and other expressions of grief.
    • Jun 25, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Don't blame trigger warnings

    "Trigger warnings" have recently resurfaced in the news because of a letter from a University of Chicago dean of students that warned incoming freshmen to not expect advance notice of potentially upsetting material in the classroom
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Global health is local health

    First with the 2014 Ebola outbreak and now with the Zika virus, Americans are becoming reacquainted with the fear of infectious disease. But although Ebola and Zika are both serious public health threats, they pale in comparison to three other diseases in terms of inflicting suffering and loss of life around the world — tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Don't blame trigger warnings

    • I have experienced 2 on the list of worst things I feel a woman could…

    • on September 27, 2016
  • Re: Medical marijuana? Yes.

    • I have epilepsy seizures . My mama said I have had them since six mths.old…

    • on September 25, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation