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In-state tuition bill for Florida children of immigrants hits roadblock

The Florida Senate Higher Education Committee dashed hopes for the in-state college tuition bill aimed at allowing Florida residents who are the children of undocumented immigrants to receive equal treatment in college and university tuition. A lifelong resident of Florida, who is also a U.S. citizen, spoke before the panel encouraging the lawmakers to move the measure forward.

The woman told the panel, "As a U.S.-born American citizen I can vote, I pay taxes, I attended school in Florida." She was making her case that it is unfair, as a life-long resident of Florida-- born in Miami and a citizen-that she should have to pay three times than other Florida residents to attend higher education in Florida.

The chair of the committee reportedly cut-off her plea saying, ""No, no, no, we're talking about your parents." Residency for purposes of tuition is not determined by the student's immigration status in Florida. The chair of the committee says an individual's status is not relevant, "That's how we establish residency in the state of Florida, by the status of your parents."

The panel was considering the Senate bill, known as SB 1018, a measure that would have allowed citizens born of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates if the student graduated from a Florida high school after attending the in-state school for at least two years.

The chair of the committee apparently objected to the measure, arguing that it would have required some U.S. citizen parents who want to have their children attend college or university in Florida and wish to pay in-state tuition to establish legal residency here first.

He reportedly reasoned it would be unfair to allow legal residents of the state who are the children of undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition by simply legally living here and attending school here. He says students who attend boarding schools in Florida for a sufficient period of time would qualify under the proposed Senate measure.

The bill died after a three-to-three roll call tie vote of the panel.

Source: Miami Herald, "Fla. Senate panel kills immigration tuition bill," Bill Kaczor, Jan. 31, 2012

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