I’m glad to report that it’s been a great week for tuition equity measures, with Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, and Hawaii taking steps to ensure that undocumented young people can qualify for in-state tuition benefits.
Only a few years after rejecting similar legislation, the Colorado Senate gave its initial approval to a bill that allows undocumented migrants who meet certain criteria to pay in-state tuition rate at public colleges and universities.
In a sign of changing attitudes, a few Republicans voted for the measure. State Senator Greg Brophy, one of the three Republicans who voted for the bill, said the final straw for him was when a Republican presidential candidate asked undocumented immigrants to “self-deport.”
State Senator Mike Johnson, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, told a riveting story of “Flavio,” one of his former students, whose mother fled mass violence against women in Mexico and entered the country undocumented when Flavio was a child. Flavio is now in the army and about to head to Afghanistan, willing to make the “ultimate sacrifice” for a country in which he does not have a legal status. “There are many kids like Flavio,’” Johnson remarked.
Similar tuition equity bills are making their way through state legislatures in Indiana and Oregon.
In Hawaii, the university system is poised to consider whether undocumented students who have lived in the state for 12 months and graduated from a high school in the United States as residents can enjoy state resident tuition rates. Right now, non-resident tuition is $11,000 per semester at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus, while resident rate is $4,000 per semester. A university spokesperson expects the Board of Regents to approve the proposal shortly. This policy change comes a year after a similar proposal was rejected by Hawaiian lawmakers.
If approved, these four states will join 12 others – California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington – that have passed similar measures.
LIRS actively campaigned for the passage of the 2012 Maryland Dream Act and is now working with a broad interfaith coalition to move humane comprehensive immigration reform through Congress. For more information and how you can get involved with the campaign, please visit http://lirs.org/cir/.