New Mexico enacted a new state law on Wednesday that will provide free college tuition to a group of illegal aliens to be paid for with federal taxpayer COVID-19 relief funds.
Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship Act and declared in a press statement that the law “opens the door” for all residents of the state to “reach higher.” The statement added that the law would strengthen New Mexico’s economy, families, and communities.
The free tuition provisions of the law will cost $75 million, and $63 million of that cost is being allocated from federal COVID-19 emergency relief funds provided to the state.
In addition to migrants who are illegally present in the U.S., the program will fund tuition costs for members of tribal nations and prison inmates.
The law does not provide funding for the scholarship program after the federal COVID funds are exhausted, and other funding will have to be raised from some source when that occurs. The new law will necessarily be a trial run of the scholarship program, as the first year of the program is expected to use the COVID funding and other allocated funds.
The program is expected to provide free tuition to around 35,000 college and university students beginning in the upcoming fall semester. The scholarships will be available to undergraduate students enrolled in at least 6 credit hours but not more than 18 hours in a single semester. The scholarships will be subject to renewal each semester based on listed criteria, including maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.5.
Supporters of the law from both political parties have expressed confidence that the program will be made permanent with funding from some source. As New Mexico’s population is now more than 60 percent Hispanic or Native American, the consensus is growing that the legislature will act in a bipartisan manner to keep the program in place now that it has been started.
Of course, because of the way the massive federal COVID-19 relief funding was established by Congress, neither New Mexico nor any other state is subject to meaningful restrictions on how the money is used. The way in which the emergency package was established means federal taxpayers have no recourse for New Mexico’s use of money extracted from every American taxpayer to provide free college to people who should not be inside the U.S. in the first place.