By Paul Tennant
---- — ANDOVER — State Rep. James Lyons has renewed his fight to prevent state benefits from being paid to illegal immigrants.
Gov. Deval Patrick issued an executive order last week that permits undocumented aliens to pay the same tuition rate at state colleges and universities as legal Massachusetts residents if they have obtained work permits.
Lyons, R-Andover, said he and other Republican legislators have filed a bill that would restrict all state benefits to United States citizens and legal immigrants. Last year, Lyons demanded that the Patrick administration report how much was spent during the fiscal year on health services for illegal immigrants.
In October 2011, the administration gave a figure of $270 million, Lyons said.
“My role is to protect the hard-earned tax dollars of working people,” Lyons said. The governor has been talking about increasing taxes, according to Lyons.
“We need other solutions besides taxes and providing services to illegal immigrants,” he said. His proposal has support from Republican colleagues but so far, no Democratic legislators have approached him about backing the measure, he said.
Yet he’s received more than 100 emails from people who object to illegal immigrants receiving state benefits, he said. The response, he said, has been “really incredible.”
Lyons, re-elected to his second term as representative from the 17th Essex District on Nov. 6, said “it’s insanity” that Patrick wants to give illegal aliens benefits while presiding over reductions in aid to cities and towns.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order that allows illegal immigrants who came to the United States before reaching age 16 and who don’t have criminal records to obtain work permits. They must also pay a $465 fee.
Both Obama and Patrick have pointed out that those who came here illegally at a young age were most likely brought by their parents, so their presence in America is “not their fault.”
State Rep.-elect Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, whose 14th Essex District abuts Lyons’ territory, did not commit herself to a position when asked what she thinks of Lyons’ bill. She hasn’t had a chance to study the legislation, she said.