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Texas students oppose tuition break for illegal immigrants

By Daniel de Vise

The Student Senate at Texas A&M University last week registered its opposition to a bill in the Texas legislature that would give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

The students voted 41 to 28 for a bill that opposes the state legislation. State lawmakers had asked for student input, according to an article in the campus newspaper.

Later in the week, the university's student body president vetoed the bill, saying the issue should be left to the state legislature.

Texas is one of 10 states that already allow in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants, according to a chart prepared last summer by the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Four other states explicitly forbid illegal immigrants to claim the tuition break, and two others, Georgia and Louisiana, bar them from public universities altogether.

Neither Maryland nor Virginia has a statewide policy on resident tuition for illegal immigrants, nor on the more basic question of whether those immigrants should be admitted to public universities. But the issue is simmering in both states.

Last month, a Maryland lawmaker challenged Montgomery College on its de-facto policy of allowing illegal immigrants to pay the lowest tuition rates, those charged to county residents. The actual rule grants the tuition breaks to recent graduates of the county's public school system, and does not consider their immigration status.

The states seem to be drifting in somewhat different directions on the question of tax-supported higher education for illegal immigrants. Maryland's Democrat-controlled legislature has repeatedly tried and failed to make in-state tuition a right for illegal immigrants. Virginia lawmakers have tried to bar illegal immigrants from public higher education.

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By Daniel de Vise  | November 8, 2010; 10:07 AM ET
Categories:  Access, Administration, Admissions, Finance, Public policy  | Tags:  Texas A&M immigrants bill, Texas tuition immigrants, illegal immigrant college tuition, illegal immigrants college Maryland  
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Comments

Georgia and Louisiana are correct in not allowing illegal aliens to attend publicly supported colleges. If allowed to attend, illegal aliens should be properly charged the same tuition as foreign students. Illegals are not residents of this country or of any state, they remain citizens of their country of origin. It is shameful that anyone would allow tax dollars to fund any portion of illegal alien education. Beside the financial question, it is wrong for an illegal alien to take the place in school that should be filled by a citizen.

Posted by: ex-Navy | November 8, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

I completely agree with not allowing them to receive the instate tuition. While I feel for those people and many of the situation they are put into is sad, but applying for citizenship needs to be the first step. If someone is capable of making it through a four year university then becoming a citizen can't be that much harder. One of our perks as citizen is going to these schools. Maybe universities could offer a well to help these people become citizens and then enter college.

Posted by: mentzers1 | November 8, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

If public universities or colleges are going to ban the illegal immigrants then they need to offer special programs that can help these children obtain citizenship when they graduate high school. Honestly, I feel that if an illegal immigrant child completes kindergarden through high school in America then they should recieve citizenship status when they graduate. They have learned everything we ask American children to learn so why shouldn't they be granted citizenship. I understand the argument about paying taxes and the fact that illegal immigrants do not pay any, but they also do not follow any labor laws and many do not even make minimum wage. I have seen illegal immigrants working 100+ hours a week in terrible conditions making only $5.00-6.00 an hour. They are working in jobs that also offer no benefits or insurance. They work just as hard as many Americans and while they are not legal citizens their contributions should not be minimized. No one ever wants to mention the Americans that don't pay taxes, that are being paid under the table and collecting unemployment or other government funding, the only difference is they were blessed to be born in America. Educating everyone is to America's advantage no matter what their citizenship status. By banning illegal immigrants from universities perpetuates the cycle of poverty and discrimination. I think that this subject is a very intense subject in which people get very passionate about and passion is a good thing to have, but sometimes issues are better solved when you can look at the issues from both sides to work it out. I just hope that legislators and colleges look at it from the perspective of an illegal immigrant child before they make their decision.

Posted by: hansena2 | November 9, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: shankartripathi85 | November 10, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Commenters, please realize that it's not either "illegal alien" or "citizen". Legal residents of a state are perfectly entitled, in my opinion, to in-state tuition. The process to become a citizen can be more complicated than you may imagine, depending on many factors including how long you have lived in the country and what country you're from. I am a student at a public university in VA. A friend I graduated high school with just received citizenship this summer, in between his freshman and sophomore years, but has been a legal resident of VA for many years. Another girl, who I am sitting in the dorm lounge with right now, is in the process of applying for citizenship.
You have to be a green-card holder, or have been granted permanent residence, for 5 years before being eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalization.

I agree that illegal immigrants should not be allowed in-state status, as they are not legal residents of the state, but I disagree with statements posted above me that only citizens deserve to attend these universities at all.

Posted by: sarahee | November 14, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

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