Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Florida Governor Repeals In-State Tuition for Dreamers

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’  has recently proposed to reverse a law that allows undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition, alarms employers, students, and community leaders. The proposal changes the 2014 measure as part of legislation cracking down on illegal immigration.

“It never occurred to me in 2014 that we would be convening again to deal with the issue of in-state tuition,” Eduardo Padrón, former president of Miami Dade College, said Thursday at a news conference in Miami.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, offers young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children temporary protection from deportation and permission to work legally. About 40,000 students enrolled in higher education in Florida are considered undocumented. Twelve thousand of these students are eligible for DACA, and about 28,000  are ineligible, according to the Higher Education Immigration Portal.

The Dreamers law, which makes in-state tuition available to Florida students without legal immigration status, was signed by previous Gov. Rick Scott, who is now in the U.S. Senate. The law was backed by several Republicans, who have been silent on the issue. Scott, however, has criticized DeSantis’ proposal as “unfair.”

He recently told reporters in Tampa that “it’s a bill that I was proud to sign. … It’s a bill I would sign again today.”

Florida is one of 23 states, along with Washington, D.C., that allow students without permanent legal status who attended high school in the respective state to pay in-state tuition.

In-state tuition and affordability for Dreamers have been backed by moderate Republicans and Democrats and immigrant groups who believe expanding education opportunities is better for the overall economy.

“Florida would only be handicapping itself by taking away in-state tuition rates for undocumented young people that the state has already invested in for their K-12 years,” Mike Fernandez, chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners and co-chair of ABIC, said in a news release.

DeSantis and other republicans’ views on the issue of immigration have shifted significantly since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.

“We have had inflation. The costs have changed,” DeSantis said at last week’s news conference. “If we want to hold the line on tuition, then you’ve got to say, you need to be a U.S. citizen who lives in Florida. Why would we subsidize non-U.S. citizens when we want to make sure we want to keep it affordable for our own people?”

Asked for comment on the criticisms, DeSantis’ office referred to the governor’s previous remarks.

NBC News