SENATE REJECTS BILL TO DENY DREAMERS IN-STATE TUITION

Richmond, VA – Today, in the Senate, one Republican senator voted with his 19 Democratic colleagues to defeat  Senator Dick Black’s (R-Loudoun)  SB 722, which would have denied DREAMers in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities.

In her floor speech, Senator Mamie Locke (D - Hampton) emphasized that, “These are students from hardworking families who have been paying into the system just like everyone else. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 50% and 75% of undocumented workers pay income taxes, and there’s no avoiding the various sales, excise, and use taxes that they pay. These students are lawfully present. They pay taxes. Their families are part and parcel of our communities. To deny in-state tuition to those who would otherwise qualify is wrong and unfair.”

Senator Barbara Favola (D - Arlington) said, “I as a Virginian, and I would ask that all of us as Virginians, would want to have students of that caliber who are willing to contribute to our economy, to improve their own lives, and to actually make us stronger, and make us a better community. We want them. We need them. They are part of us. We should allow them to be going on to college. I think the point here is, they’re not a drain on our economy. They’re a plus to our economy.”

Said Senator John Edwards (D - Roanoke), “We’re talking about students who have graduated from our high schools and were admitted to our public colleges and universities. They came here through no volition of their own in most cases. Their parents brought them here. They are students whose parents have paid taxes and contributed to our Commonwealth.  These students feel in all respects that they are just as American as anybody else — they’re just as American as their classmates, their neighbors […] and they would wonder, why are they being treated differently?”

BACKGROUND

Prior to Attorney General Mark Herring’s 2014 determination that current law already allows DREAMers to pay tuition at in-state rates, Senate Democrats had repeatedly carried bills to enact that policy. Those bills — like Sen. Donald McEachin’s (D - Henrico) SB 249 in 2014 — typically failed in party-line votes.

Note that the non-partisan Commonwealth Institute has prepared an analysis that details the benefits of the Commonwealth’s current policy of enabling DREAMers to access in-state tuition.

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