Stop the press! Illegal immigrants are displacing Iraq war veterans in college classrooms!
Or....wait. That's not a news story. That's just Steve Doocy and his guest wildly inventing a reason to be outraged over a community college allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
The real news story is this: last month, Morris County College in New Jersey decided to reverse their long-standing policy of barring illegal immigrants from enrolling. In addition to now allowing them to register for classes, the school will also allow them to pay in-county tuition, rather than out-of-county or out-of state rates.
Of course, this was cause for extreme alarm over on Fox News, which previously threw a full-blown freakout over similar stories in California. Today, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy invited Morris County Freeholder (New Jersey's term for a county legislator) Tom Mastrangelo on the air today to bash the school's new policy
From the show:
DOOCY: What bothers you about this?
MASTRANGELO: Well, we're utilizing -- we've subsidized about $11.6 million to the county -- to the county college, and we're using tax dollars, citizen tax dollars, for that subsidy, and we are subsidizing an illegal -- I don't want to say illegal activity, but these people are illegal and that seems to be the problem.
MASTRANGELO: Well Steve, look, New Jersey's been very generous in providing education from K-12 for a lot of these -- for this group. To continue that is just another entitlement. I think we're way overboard on entitlements in this country, in the state of New Jersey, and you know, we're trying to pull all of that back. And our great governor is trying to keep spending under control, and the last thing we need to give him is another entitlement from a tax level.
DOOCY: Well, if they're going to give illegals this in-county tuition rate, why not give people who are out of work a break? Where do you draw the line?
MASTRANGELO: Well, I think we have to draw the line. And, look, I mean, if you look at what's happened over -- if you look at President Regan, and he gave amnesty, and we had a few more amnesty plans after that. The more breaks that you give, you are going to continue to see this type of activity. I think we've got to stop it here. Look, there's a very human side to this and we've got to consider the human side of it. You feel bad for a lot of these kids, but the bottom line is, it's citizen dollars, and those dollars -- those citizens come first.
Eventually, Doocy imagined this situation for his viewers:
DOOCY: Tom, what about the vet who served abroad, and he comes back and he tries to get into Morris County College, and the class is full because it's got a number of illegals in there paying in-county tuition rates?
MASTRANGELO: Well, it's funny you said that, Steve. I've actually said that. When you look at the vet from Afghanistan or Iran and anywhere else for that matter and needs to get into a class. And we've got a full class, and we have got three or four undocumenteds, illegals, whatever you want to term them, in that class. What do you do then? Do you bump them out for the citizen? My guess would be yes.
Doocy seems to be presenting this as an actual story that may have already happened. In fact, it's a hypothetical scenario that Mastrangelo, as he notes, previously fed the Associated Press for their March 4 story on the policy change:
“We're subsidizing it for citizens,” Mastrangelo said. “Let's say you have a veteran coming back from Afghanistan or Iraq and they want to register for a class and that class is filled, and you have a percentage of undocumenteds in there, what do you tell the citizens?”
Just how likely is this scenario? Well, according to a February 18 story in The Star Ledger, the school has 8800 students. Even Doocy suggests that this proposal “could impact 30 or 40 or 50 kids who go to the college.” Doocy doesn't explain where he's getting this number from, but let's use Doocy's middle number, 40 students who are affected by the policy change. That would mean that the illegal immigrant student population at Morris County College is a whopping .45 percent. Seems pretty unlikely that they'll be pushing classes to max capacity.
Furthermore, something that neither Doocy nor Mastrangelo mentions in the segment is that these benefits will go to a very narrowly-defined group of illegal immigrants. According to the Star Ledger story:
CCM will be one of the first schools in the state to establish a clear set of rules for enrolling illegal students. Under the new policy, only students who are 35 or younger and graduated from a U.S. high school are eligible. Students must also prove they entered the U.S. before age 16 and lived in the country at least five consecutive years.
So the only illegal immigrants eligible for the in-county rate are those who were brought here as children and have already completed high school in the U.S.
And as we've previously noted, similar rules have already been upheld: last November the California Supreme Court upheld a law that allows nonresidents who attended California high schools to pay in-state tuition.
Funny how those facts didn't make it onto Fox.