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Bill Filed to Guarantee In-State Tuition to Florida Children of Undocumented Immigrants

| December 4, 2012

Time for the mask to come off. (Xiomele)

Children born in the United States but whose parents are in the country illegally would be eligible for in-state tuition in Florida, under a bill filed Tuesday that would codify a court decision from earlier this year.

A federal judge in September ordered that American-born children must be allowed to attend college under the same rules as other students, and can’t be forced to pay more for college because of their parents’ status. Rep. Reggie Fullwood, a Jacksonville Democrat who filed the bill, said the judge nullified the state rule, but he isn’t satisfied that state education officials will moved forward in making sure that students covered by the ruling are given in-state tuition. “I assumed the folks in the education department would automatically change the policy,” but that may not be the case, Fullwood said. “This basically codifies it.” Unlike the federal Dream Act, which covers children brought to the country illegally, the Florida bill filed Tuesday (HB 11) only deals with children who are American citizens by virtue of being born in the United States. Those students for years have been denied the ability to go to college because in-state tuition is based on a students’ parents’ residency status. Such students’ parents don’t have a residency status. Out of state tuition is typically about three times in-state tuition, which prices many of the students out of a college education. Miami U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore ruled in September that Florida’s practice for determining in-state tuition violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. “(Classifying) U.S. citizen students who reside in Florida according to their parents’ undocumented federal immigration status does not advance any legitimate state interest, much less the state’s important interest in furthering educational opportunities for its own residents,” Moore wrote. Fullwood said it’s not clear how many children might be affected by the change.

“There’s no way to really document the number of kids who get discouraged and don’t apply for school,” because they can’t get in-state tuition, he said. Additional measures, possibly covering different groups of students, are expected to be filed in both chambers. The Legislature has begun committee meetings for its 2013 session, but can’t officially take floor votes until March. The same proposed legislation died earlier this year in the previous legislative session when the Senate Higher Education Committee voted it down on a tie vote. That committee doesn’t exist anymore, having been replaced by a single Education Committee in the Senate. It’s not clear that the measure is needed – the federal court order clearly enjoined state officials from interpreting the law to require dependent U.S. citizen students who can otherwise establish Florida residency and the Florida residency of their parents to also provide evidence of legal immigration. A couple of other states, California and Illinois, have made it easier for the children of illegal immigrants to attend college through scholarship programs.

–David Royse, News Service of Florida

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10 Responses for “Bill Filed to Guarantee In-State Tuition to Florida Children of Undocumented Immigrants”

  1. confidential says:

    If they are children born here from illegal Latinos from south of the border they do not even have the rights for schooling? But if they are children born here by Chinese that pay with a tourist visas for pregnant women housing and attention in Ca and other states to have an American Citizen baby born here, that is okay? Means that the 14th amendment is interpreted and enforced in different ways depending who affects? Sickening!
    Wow… but the difference is that they fly in from China First Class while the one’s across the Rio Grand come on foot thru the desert even loosing their lives on the journey. Makes them less deserving right..?
    The rich Chinese abound with the profits of all the American labor stolen from our workers, here and worldwide.

  2. Beaner says:

    Hasta La Vista baby !!!!

  3. "My Daily Rant" says:

    If their parents didnt pay into the system then they should not enjoy the benifits.

    • Nancy N. says:

      “Didn’t pay into the system”? Did you forget that Florida doesn’t have an income tax and that our state is entirely funded by sales taxes, which means that everyone who sets foot in this state, regardless of residency or legal status “pays into the system”?

  4. jack stewart says:

    I was born in the USA..My children could not get a free hand out….we had to work hard to be able to afford their education,,both My wife and I are proud of our accomplishment .. its a shame ..that if your an illegal your kids get everything for free…God bless America..or is it God help America

    • Nancy N. says:

      Who is getting anything for free? All this bill and court decision does is say that kids who are citizens and residing in the state of Florida all pay the same tuition rate, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

  5. Samuel Smith says:

    This is a good thing. Kids can’t help the fact that their parents entered illegally, and if they’ve passed through the k-12 system at least this will put them in a position to be able to contribute to society instead of leeching off of it.

  6. Magnolia says:

    @ jack stewart, it is the latter.

  7. Sea dog says:

    I would expect there is a cost benefit to educating Children of Undocumented Immigrants. Education of people that are going to remain in this country is a positive and from what I have seen children of immigrants are more motivated to learn then on the average.

  8. Deep South says:

    When I was in college here in Florida, their were many young men and women who’s parents were of Cuban nationality who fled to Florida to escape Fidel Castro’s dictatorship. These young Cuban-American students were the hardest working students out of all of us. Their parents made sure of that, and their parents paid every single cent.

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