A bill that recently passed the Florida House would give the children of undocumented immigrants the ability to pay the same rates as other students if they attend college in the state. The law says that students who went to high school in the state for four years would get a tuition waiver. Residents who go to an in-state college typically pay around 25 percent of what an out-of-state student would pay to attend.
The bill passed the House on an 81-to-33 decision that saw many Republicans vote against the bill. While the measure has passed the House, there is no guarantee that it will pass the Senate. Similar bills have been passed in the House and in the Senate previously, but no bill has managed to pass both houses in the same year. Governor Rick Scott supports similar legislation, suggesting that the waiver would limit increases in tuition rates.
It is reported that 15 other states have similar laws, and a number of other states are looking to pass such legislation. The bill’s proponents suggest that the students in question should not be punished for their parents’ actions. However, those who argue against the bill claim that it is wrong to give benefits to a family that has broken the law.
A child of an undocumented person faces unique challenges. According to Florida statutes, for the purposes of tuition, the child of an undocumented immigrant is not considered a resident because of their parents’ legal status. However, if that child was born in the United States, they are automatically given citizenship. Consulting with an attorney who is familiar with immigration law may help those who are trying to understand how their residency status affects their rights.
Source: Florida Senate Website Archive, “Determination of resident status for tuition purposes,” 2013
Source: Fox News Latino, “DREAMER Bill Giving Undocumented Immigrants In-State Tuition Rates Passes Through Florida House”, March 21, 2014