Ives, Breen argue against higher education aid for illegal immigrants
Reps. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and Peter Breen (R-Lombard) did not hold back in rejecting proposed legislation that would have granted student aid to illegal immigrants.
While Ives said she was appalled by HB2394, sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero), and Breen called the bill controversial, emotional and personal, the two GOP legislators had no problem pointing out the flaws in giving financial aid to undocumented students.
Ives said she stood on behalf of taxpayers, students who left Illinois because they could not afford to go to school in the state, kids who worked very hard in high school to receive the ability to have academic scholarships, and implored her peers to vote no and asked for a verification on a bill she called a travesty.
“We have sanctuary cities, we are sanctuary state and now we want to provide taxpayer funding for illegal immigrants for higher education when every single year, our student population that graduates from high school chooses another school out of state because it is more affordable,” Ives said in floor debate Nov. 8 during the veto session.
Hernandez said she was proud to present HB394 to the House floor because it embodied equality.
“It represents a real opportunity for undocumented students who consider themselves every bit as American as you and to begin down a pathway of meaningful and productive citizenship,” Hernandez said.
Breen brought up the simplicity of the bill to prove his point.
“It appears you are amending each state university act in Illinois so folks that are residents, though not here legally, will get all student aid benefits, scholarships, grants, awards, stipends, room and board, tuition waivers and everything else without regard to the fact that they are not citizens or legal residents in the country,” Breen said.
Hernandez stressed the bill was not a mandate.
“It simply allows universities to open up their institutional aid to undocumented students who are admitted based on academic merit or are enrolled,” Hernandez said.
That notion became quite personal to Ives.
“My son worked very hard in high school and had great ACT scores, sufficient enough to receive a full academic tuition and fee scholoraship out of state,” Ives said. “But we couldn’t afford to keep him at the state of Illinois, and yet you are sitting here and asking state taxpayers to come in and support illegal immigrants to get higher education when their own kids can’t afford to go to school in state.”
Breen said Hernandez could not assure how each university would extend the offer if the bill passed, which could very well mean taxpayers would foot the education for illegal students.
Ives cited Illinois' present debt to drive her point home.
“Today we reached a record high in our unpaid bills, it is over $16.6 billion and yet you want to take hard earned taxpayer dollars and send it to illegal immigrants,” Ives said. “When you are a state that is broke and a fiscal basket case, you can’t afford to be generous with other people’s money and that’s exactly what this bill does.”
Ives also pointed out that the standards for scholarship were only financially based and not performance set, another reason the bill was unacceptable.
“You are taking other people’s money for your special interest when they can’t afford to pay for things for their own children,” Ives said. “I am shocked we are even having this debate quite frankly, I can’t believe its on floor.”
The House defeated HB2394 on a 57-40 vote.