Meg’s Immigration Problem Is on Education, Not Arizona


Meg Whitman is being criticized from the right and the left as a phony on immigration. The evidence is her supposed flip-flopping on the (infamous or famous, depending on your perspective) Arizona law that empowers local law enforcement to behave like immigration agents.

Whitman has a problem on immigration, but the Arizona law isn't the place where she has a problem. Under constant pressure, she's refused to endorse the law. And in doing so, she at the very least has made plain that California isn't going to see legislation like this anytime soon.

No, Whitman's biggest problem on immigration relates to education. Specifically, she wants to ban undocumented people from state-run public universities and community colleges.

Whatever the short term benefits of such a policy in getting the support of anti-immigration conservatives, such a ban is bad policy and politics in the long-run. Whitman is taking aim at exactly the sort of striving immigrants who are most likely to stay in the U.S., contribute to society, and take leadership positions in their community and companies (and in politics). It's the sort of proposal that will hurt her and her party in the long-term.

Second, California, by most estimates, is failing to produce as many college graduates as it needs to meet its labor needs. As much as possible, the state needs to turn as many young people as possible into university graduates. Given that reality, it's a good thing for California anytime an undocumented high school student is college-ready enough to win admission to a state university. To ban such students from our colleges is contrary to the economic interests of the state. 

Even if it means admitting error, it'd be nice to see Whitman do a flip-flop on this issue.

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