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Dream Act’s Florida Push Dies as Senate Panel Kills Proposal to Give In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrants

| April 18, 2014

Dream once again deferred. (longislandwins)

Dream once again deferred. (longislandwins)

An effort to grant in-state tuition to some undocumented immigrant students appeared all but dead Thursday, as Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, announced his committee would not hear the bill next week.

At the same time, Senate President Don Gaetz’s office seemed to foreclose the possibility of at least one procedural gambit that could revive the proposal (SB 1400).

Negron made the announcement in a statement issued by his office late Thursday, as the agenda for the Appropriations Committee’s final regularly scheduled meeting was being released.

“In-state tuition discounts should, in my view, be reserved for legal residents of Florida,” Negron said. “Florida law does not prohibit students who are undocumented from accessing our state colleges and universities. Once these students favorably resolve their residency status, they could become eligible for in-state tuition.”

Supporters of the bill seemed taken aback by the news, which came less than a week after Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who sponsored the bill, announced that half the Senate had agreed to join him in sponsoring the measure. Latvala and Negron are locked in a battle over the Senate presidency for the session beginning after the 2016 elections.

“Whoa. I’m speechless, actually,” Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican who chairs the Hispanic legislative caucus, said in an interview with The News Service of Florida. “It’s unfortunate. This bill has worked its way through the committee process. I think they should allow the Senate to vote and take the politics out of it.”

The Senate bill would grant a blanket exemption from the much-higher, out-of-state tuition rates to anyone, regardless of their immigration status, who attends a Florida secondary school, other than the state’s online school, for at least three consecutive years before graduating from high school. Undocumented students would also have to sign affidavits saying that they had applied for or would apply for legalization

If the bill is in fact dead, it would mark a major defeat for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who has made allowing undocumented students to pay cheaper in-state tuition one of his top priorities this year. Weatherford devoted a portion of his speech on the opening day of the session to the legislation.

It would also be a setback for Gov. Rick Scott, who said he supported the bill in large part because it would limit or eliminate universities’ ability to increase tuition up to 15 percent a year without legislative approval. Scott has crusaded for lower tuition rates in recent months. The governor later said he also backed the in-state tuition for immigrants.

Both men’s offices insisted Thursday that the proposal isn’t finished.

“This is an important bill, and there is still plenty of time left in the session,” John Tupps, a spokesman for Scott, said in an email.

“There are a lot of folks praying for these kids,” Weatherford said in a statement released by his office. “Two weeks is a long time, and I remain optimistic.”

But a spokeswoman for Gaetz, R-Niceville, seemed to eliminate one possibility for getting the bill approved: pulling the measure from the Appropriations Committee and sending it straight to the floor.

“The president is not planning to remove bills from committees of reference,” spokeswoman Katie Betta said in an email.

In a letter to supporters earlier Thursday, Gaetz reiterated his opposition to the bill. But Gaetz had repeatedly said he would not block the bill if it had the necessary votes in the Senate, and his letter seemed to indicate a vote could happen.

“Though I am likely in the minority in the Legislature on this matter, I cannot support taxpayer subsidies in the form of tuition discounts for undocumented or illegal students,” Gaetz wrote. “I will vote against SB 1400.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican and the Senate president’s son, applauded Negron’s move in a post to Twitter.

“I’ve never been a bigger fan of Sen. Joe Negron than this very moment,” he wrote.

But Garcia said he will meet with Don Gaetz and Negron next week “to see if there’s any way we could revitalize this.” He said the president had already promised him that the Senate would vote on the proposal.

“Why not let the Senate decide one way or another?” Garcia said. “It’s not only important to Hispanics, it’s important to the economy and the well-being of the state.”

–Brandon Larrabee and Dara Kam, News Service of Florida

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15 Responses for “Dream Act’s Florida Push Dies as Senate Panel Kills Proposal to Give In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrants”

  1. m&m says:

    Good. The honest ones who are documented along with the rest of us should not have to pay for the illegals.. Why don’t they get documented?? Is it possible they’re hiding something??

  2. blondee says:

    Finally!!!! Someone in the Senate with half a brain!

  3. Bill says:

    While I do feel bad for some of these kids like ones who where brought here as young kids they are still NOT legal citizens of this Nation. They have only their moms and dads to blame. No aid should be given to any who are ILLEGALS in our Nation. Now for kids who where brought here illegally and are now adults maybe some sort of thing can be worked out for legal residence like never being in trouble with the law and or military service. Then with a honorable discharge they should get citizenship. We have laws on how to come to this Nation if you come by other ways NO aid should be given and you should be sent home when found.

  4. tulip says:

    I think we should be concentrating on helping our own legal citizens. I know that there are many children in the U. S. that are born of illegal parents and the child is the innocent one, but I don’t think we should illegal immigrants to come here, have children and reap free benefits.

    There are too many deserving young people and adult American citizens that need some help to improve themselves and those are the ones that should get it.

  5. RHWeir says:

    “Dream Act’s Florida Push Dies as Senate Panel Kills Proposal to Give In-State Tuition to Undocumented Immigrants”. Thank you Senate Panel.

  6. Miguel Barbudo Peludo II says:

    I was a liittle boy dreaming of coming to America to make my life with Americans.
    It was going to be a life like on Leave It To Beaver.
    The dream act is absurd considering that education for people born here
    is unaffordable.
    So very sad what happened to your nation. You are in decline, and Canada is a
    better and less hateful society.
    You have my earnest sympathy. You are no longer the greatest, but no worry because
    all empires do collapse. Institutionalized hatred, greed, and a you indifference to your fellow man
    is killing you.
    You are xenophobes languishing in a globalized planet.
    No leaving it to Beaver but Apocalypse now.
    The chickens came home to roost.

    Adios amigos.

    • djsii says:

      Were the reasons you have described the catalyst for you and all other illegal aliens left their country? Was it impossible for you to change the direction and political structure of your own land? I personally don’t care for your concept of “globalized” poverty. You break our laws and you then have the audacity to show your revulsion for our attitudes? You illegally invade our country by the TENS OF MILLIONS and are offended that we resent it?

      I have no sympathy for you. I suspect that you and many others like you will migrate to countries like Canada. It’s because you and other illegal aliens would rather invade another country than try to fix the problems their own. A gutless approach, but so far, successful. Do you really believe that Canada or any other affluent country wants you to invade them as well?

      Wake up Miguel! People from all walks of life and from over the globe have been immigrating to this country LEGALLY for GENERATIONS and have been accepted and welcomed as citizens of this nation.

    • Genie says:

      @ Miguel:

      Hatred to our fellow man? How about sucked dry by millions of illegals coming here only for the freebies and benefits? No country has been as generous and stupid as the United States. Why not stay in your own country and build it? Who is the greedy one here?

    • Bill says:

      And thus is the problem with many who look to come to this nation ~” dreaming of coming to America to make my life with Americans.” Those who look to just come here and NOT become a part of this Nation and a American!!

  7. The Baron says:

    About time . Enough is enough. We the Taxpaying Citizens should not be paying for the illegals or unwashed.
    If you want it then reach into your own pockets and pay for it. Still looking for something for nothing move up north or to the Peoples Republic of California. Seriously if we sovereign citizens don’t get a hand on the liberal / socialist politicians America will no longer be a melting pot of people who have a common goal of one nation of one language, we’ll only be a cesspool third world nation. If your here by some means other than your own by parents with no allegiance to this nation then you and then need to go back to where your parents came from and come here legally period. Our own citizens and military vets are pushed aside in favor of the third worlders who the Democratic machine needs for votes.

  8. Anonymous says:

    why is it that i who served in the military, put 27 years in law enforcement, born and raised in this country and went to catholic schools have to pay for these illegals while breaking the law, this is complete insanity. our politicians are selling us and betraying us for their own agenda.

  9. K Brown says:

    “…It’s not only important to Hispanics, it’s important to the economy and the well-being of the state…”

    Which is why it’s not being considered. Gaetz or Negron should seriously consider running for Governor.

  10. Working Mom of 3 Teens says:

    So, I was born here and my three children were, too, but since we do not reside in FL, if any of my children were to attend a FL college/university, (unless private) we would be paying out-of-state tuition. There are actually people who think it’s a good idea to allow people who are in this country ILLEGALLY to get in-state-tuition? Well, I say no flipping way. That’s insane and just goes to show the libs have no brain cells left.

  11. michael anderson says:

    I came to this country LEGALLY with my still LEGAL parents 7 years ago. My parents are hardworking and employ around 12 US citizens in their businesses. This bill does not go far enough, and this maybe the straw that breaks the donkeys back. My parents cannot now afford international student fees, they have sent my to University for 3 years now but I know they are struggling. This is an insult to good hardworking LEGAL people. I fear they are ready to go back to the UK, leaving people unemployed and with a bitter taste in their mouths.

    For me I don’t know what’s next, but ILEGAL I guess

  12. michael anderson says:

    I came to this country LEGALLY with my still LEGAL parents 7 years ago. My parents are hardworking and employ around 12 US citizens in their businesses. This bill does not go far enough, and this maybe the straw that breaks the donkeys back. My parents cannot now afford international student fees, they have sent my to University for 3 years now but I know they are struggling. This is an insult to good hardworking LEGAL people. I fear they are ready to go back to the UK, leaving people unemployed and with a bitter taste in their mouths.

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