Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bills would grant immigrants instate tuition

Legislatures nationwide are considering bills that would grant instate tuition to immigrants who lack proper documentation.

As of now, federal law only allows illegal immigrants to attend public elementary and secondary schools.

The new legislation under consideration in Washington State would apply to children of illegal immigrants who currently do not have valid citizenship. Requirements mandate that these individuals must have grown up in the United States and been enrolled in a Washington high school for at least three years. The students would also have to apply for U.S. citizenship.


Washington State University and the Washington Legislature believe this bill would be more cost-effective in the long run.

The bill would only affect approximately 20 to 25 students, according to WSU officials.

Francisco Tamayo, a counselor at WSU’s Multicultural Student Services, followed the development of this legislation closely. He recently met with the director of the Latino Educational Achievement Program, who is confident that the bill will pass.

Tamayo said the wording of the bill is currently being modified to increase the chance that it will become a law.

“Even though undocumented immigrants may get instate tuition in Washington if the bill passes, the state still does not provide enough funding for the students,” Tamayo said.

He pointed out that this will not solve all the costs of education for immigrants but is a step in the right direction.

In addition, Tamayo emphasized that the majority of immigrants who would be affected by the bill have lived in Washington for at least 12 years and gone through its school system.

“Most are high school graduates looking for an opportunity to further their education,” Tamayo said. “There is no reason their education should stop at a high school level because of documentation. We are going to need a qualified generation to take our place.”

Director of Policy and Legislature for the League of United Latin American Citizens Gabriela Lemus has been at the forefront of lobbying efforts to pass federal legislation with the Dream Act and the Student Adjustment Act.

New legislation would decrease Hispanic dropout rates and improve tax revenue by doubling the rate of Hispanic college graduates by 2010.

“The two bills were initially introduced in 2002,” Lemus said. “Neither has been reintroduced this term; however, there is word that the Student Adjustment Act will be reintroduced as soon as next week.”

Lemus continues to lobby for the cause, even though legislators have told her there is little chance of its passage.

“The politics surrounding the issue are really nasty,” Lemus said.

She reports that “constant lobbying” is the approach she has taken to make legislators aware of the importance of education for immigrants, especially the Latino population.

The bill will move to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., whom many expect to veto the bill.

Similar legislation is underway in Virginia, where Gov. Mark R. Warner proposed an instate tuition bill for illegal immigrants March 22.Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore opposes enrolling undocumented immigrants in colleges.

Warner’s bill requires that the student graduate from a Virginia high school and attempt to secure legal status while residing in Virginia for at least five years. The student would also need to provide documentation of paid Virginia income taxes for at least three years.

Warner’s amendment would grant less expensive tuition prices to approximately 150 students statewide. The Virginia General Assembly’s ruling will be handed down April 2.

Utah, California, New York, Texas, and many other states are following suit by taking similar proposals into consideration.

Advocates Tamayo and Lemus are hopeful that the legislation will pass soon and solve problems of documentation and education.

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