Conservatives blasted President Biden on Wednesday for including illegal immigrants in his plan for tuition-free community colleges.
Mr. Biden’s $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan” spending $109 billion over the next decade to make community colleges free.
“The current crisis has led to a steep college enrollment decline, particularly for low-income students and students of color,” a Biden administration fact sheet on the plan.
In addition, Mr. Biden is proposing to spend another $80 billion over the next ten years to increase the maximum amount that low-income college students can receive through Pell Grants. The limit would rise by $1,4000 from $6,495.
Though both ideas have bipartisan backing, the support begins to fray when Mr. Biden extends the new benefit to “Dreamers,” illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and grew up here.
The Biden plan would reverse a longstanding policy that bars non-citizens from receiving taxpayer-funded aid.
Rep. Virginia Fox of North Carolina, the top Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, noted that Mr. Biden is giving illegal immigrants a free college education but leaving Americans on the hook for student loans.
“Biden needs a reality check. Giving handouts for illegal aliens to pursue taxpayer-funded education flies in the face of his concern for the student debt crisis in this country,” she said.
That Biden wants to include Dreamers is hardly a surprise, said R.J. Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an anti-illegal immigration group.
Mr. Biden also has proposed giving them a pathway to citizenship.
“If a plan comes from this White House and it claims to help American workers, families, or students, it will include illegal aliens. So this is no surprise,” Mr. Hauman said.
He noted that Mr. Biden has resisted calls from the left to cancel $50,000 in debt from everyone who has student loans.
“But the fact is this: 45 million Americans are shackled with student debt — we should focus on getting them relief,” he said.
Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott praised the plan for countering rising tuitions that put higher education out of reach for low-income students.
“For too long, the rising cost of college—fueled by chronic state and federal disinvestment—has barred our nation’s students from being able to access a quality college degree,” said Mr. Scott, Virginia Democrat.
“Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing higher education even further out of reach, particularly for our nation’s underserved students,” he said.
In Tennessee, where the state legislature eliminated tuition for community colleges in 2017, Mr. Biden’s idea also came under attack.
“We do not need Joe Biden‘s big government to tax and spend more of our hard-earned tax dollars,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican. “Federally run community college is just another step in the left’s plot to increase the role of government over Americans’ lives. They are striving to create a country where Americans depend on government for everything.”
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