Education Secretary: Provide Financial Aid for Illegal Immigrants

Outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan called on Congress to provide financial aid to illegal immigrant children.

“We have to invest more heavily in early childhood education. We have to make sure we give financial aid to our undocumented students and the fact that as a nation we have yet to do that is a travesty,” Duncan said at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute conference in Washington.

“As a nation I just think what we are doing is absolutely backwards. We cut off our nose to spite our face. Think of young people who this is their country that they have grown up in, the country they love, they have worked hard, they have gotten great grades, they’ve been community leaders, they’ve contributed and the fact that we don’t give them the chance to go to college makes no sense whatsoever,” he added.

Duncan pointed out that a number of states have “stepped up” to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants and other private foundations are providing some assistance as well.

“But we are nowhere near where we need to be and as a nation we have to break through,” he said.

Duncan also called on Congress to tackle the issue of gun control given the recent shooting in Oregon.

“There’s a level that our nation has accepted that simply isn’t accepted in Australia and Canada and England and Japan and other countries. They just don’t accept it and their children grow up with a much greater sense of security,” he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said the federal government must take care of the minors who cross the border illegally.

“We must not turn our backs. We must not turn them away,” he said.

O’Malley denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s position on illegal immigration.

“I don’t find it funny. I don’t find it entertaining. I find it harmful to the spirit of America,” he said.

O’Malley said Trump has “infected” the entire Republican field of candidates.

“They want to be like him,” he said.

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), a GOP presidential candidate, also said he rejects Trump's proposal to deport illegal immigrants.

"I do not believe mass deportation is the answer," he said. "While Republicans don't hate people who come to this country and particularly don't hate people in the Latino community, the way we talk to people in this country matters. The tone that we give matters."

Gilmore vowed to remove illegal immigrants that commit crimes inside the U.S.

“No automatic amnesty for citizenship,” he said. “Get those who commit crimes no matter where they come from or who they are off the streets but with reason and compassion.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told the audience that DHS does not have the resources to prosecute “every single person who is apprehended” at the southwest border.