Education News

Despite Trump betrayal, Dreamer students hold ground on in-state tuition

by Félix Pérez; image courtesy of Austin Community College

Dreamer students — individuals brought to the United States when they were infants or children — have held their ground when it comes to paying in-state tuition despite President Trump’s termination of a program that gave them renewable, temporary protected status, an action that puts them at risk of deportation.

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At least 20 states and the District of Columbia have “tuition equity” laws or policies that permit certain students who have attended and graduated from secondary schools in their state to pay the same tuition as their “in-state” classmates at their state’s public institutions of higher education, regardless of their immigration status.

Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in September 2017, creating fear and uncertainty among 800,000 Dreamers, including 600,000 who are high school or college students. His action contradicted his statement from seven months earlier that he would work with Congress to fix the immigration status of DACA recipients. “We are gonna deal with DACA with heart,” said Trump. “To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects I have because you have these incredible kids — in many cases, not in all cases,” he said.

According to the National Immigration Law Center, more than 75 percent of the nation’s foreign-born population live in states with tuition equity laws or policies, and other states are considering similar measures. Requirements of tuition equity laws and policies vary from state to state, but eligible students generally must have attended a school in the state for a certain number of years, and graduated from high school or obtained a GED in the state.

“These policies are intended primarily to help young people who were brought to the U.S. by their parents and have worked hard in school with the hope of going to college but then discover that they face insurmountable obstacles,” wrote NILC in a fact sheet. “According to experts in the states that have adopted tuition equity laws or policies, the cost of implementing them has been negligible. In-state tuition is not the same as free tuition. It is a discount, but in fact the money paid by these students often increases school revenues because it represents income that the institutions would not otherwise receive.”

Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, an association that promotes the student affairs profession, points out that while immigration policy is typically a federal government responsibility, tuition at state postsecondary institutions falls under the purview of states. NASPA adds that “there are many sound economic and public good incentives to provide in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants for states,” including that Dreamer students are more likely to enroll in college in states that offer tuition equity laws than those in states without these policies. Dreamer students completing college may increase the wealth of the state, and support efforts to close the gap in high school graduation rates.

The National Council of State Legislatures reports that only Arizona, Georgia and Indiana prohibit undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates, although a bill was filed in Indiana in January that would repeal the restriction on in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Oklahoma filed a bill last year that would have required citizenship as a prerequisite for in-state tuition.

4 responses to “Despite Trump betrayal, Dreamer students hold ground on in-state tuition

  1. The idea that Democrats appear to be using Dreamers as bartering chips for the next election is laughable. Democrats have made numerous bi-partisan proposals to solve DACA. Each time they’ve been sabotaged or blocked by this president.

    The last attempt was on January 11 when a group of six senators – three Republicans and three Democrats, said they had reached a bi-partisan agreement that addressed border security, the diversity visa lottery, “chain migration” and Dreamers. Once again, Trump opposed that deal.

    The truth is this president doesn’t really want a solution to DACA for fear of alienating his base of support who oppose ANY amenable deal on immigration. Bi-partisan attempts to deal w/DACA and Trump’s persistent obstruction are well documented on POLITIFACT, a non-partisan fact checking site.

  2. Let’s see: resident tuition presumably is for a resident here legally. A person is an illegal resident. I suppose the law does not specify ‘legal’ resident so giving a break to those here illegally makes legal sense. But then again, that has little to do with common sense or what is morally right. So make a kid who lives a few miles away in another state pay more tuition but give a break to an illegal alien. Yeah, now that makes sense.

    Trump attempted to deal with these so called ‘dreamers’, but the Democrats appear to be using these illegal aliens are bartering chips for the next election. Simple answer is to pack them all up and send anyone here illegally back to from whence they came. Problem solved.

    1. MarineBob – You need to get your facts straight. The Democrats have made numerous proposals to fix DACA (with bi-partisan support)but it’s YOUR president that has refused any proposed solution. The last attempt was on Jan. 11 where a group of six senators — three Republicans and three Democrats — said they had reached a bipartisan agreement on immigration that addressed border security, the diversity visa lottery, “chain migration” and Dreamers. President Trump opposed that deal as well. The bottom line is Trump doesn’t really want DACA solved for fear of alienating his hardcore supporters(like you).

      This info. is well documented on POLITIFACT, a non-partisan fact checking site. Go read it. If you can’t believe that source, then you’re hopeless.

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