Senate and House panels reached different decisions Thursday on legislation to allow in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants.
Legislation that would have provided in-state college tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants living in Virginia was defeated on a party-line vote in the GOP-controlled Senate Education and Health Committee.
But the House Education Committee approved bipartisan legislation that would allow eligible undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.
Senate Bill 1090, sponsored by Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, and a companion measure by Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, would have provided the in-state rate for public or private high school graduates in Virginia who have lived in the commonwealth, paid taxes for three years and have been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It has been popularly known as the DREAM Act.
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The House panel approved a measure made up of several proposals rolled into House Bill 1524, sponsored by Del. Thomas Davis Rust, R-Fairfax. It then referred the measure to the Appropriations Committee to assess its fiscal impact.
“This is a major victory for Virginia’s immigrant community” said Del. Alfonso H. Lopez, D-Arlington, adding that he hopes the money committee will send the bill to the House floor.
“Virginia has already made a tremendous investment in the primary and secondary education of undocumented students,” Lopez said.
“Allowing them the opportunity to earn in-state tuition for higher education will ensure that Virginia keeps its best and the brightest students so that they can continue to contribute to the commonwealth. This is not just the right thing to do for these students who are here at no fault of their own, but the right thing to do for economic growth in Virginia.”
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