GOP-led committee reports Sen. Black's SB 722 on party-line vote

RICHMOND, VA — In a morning meeting today, the Senate Committee on Education & Health voted 8-7 along party lines to advance Sen. Dick Black’s (R - Loudoun) bill that would deny DREAMers in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities (SB 722). In response, Senate Democrats made the following statements:

Said Sen. Mamie Locke (D - Hampton), “Many of these students cannot remember any other home than Virginia. If we make it harder for these young people to continue their educations, they won’t just disappear — but they will have a harder time reaching their full potential as productive, contributing members of our society. That would be a grave loss to all of us.”

Said Sen. Janet Howell (D - Reston), “We must not trample the dreams of young people who were raised in this state, went to school, earned an education, and now want to continue on that path as contributing members of our society. We need to look at the faces of these young people, and ask, ‘What are we doing for their future?’ That is our responsibility.”

Multiple DREAMers (students with deferred action status) and more than a dozen outside groups appeared to speak against the bill; those groups represented a broad swathe of society, ranging from the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations to the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce to the office of the attorney general.


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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