Saturday, February 03, 2007

Undocumented Students and In-State Tuition

In his new role as blogger turned press flak for the Republican Party of Virginia, Sean Kenney is "posting" press releases up daily that attack various Democrats for their votes, particularly on immigration related issues.

So, let's examine one of the votes that he flogged the media with this week ... David Marsden's vote on HB 2623, Jack Reid's bill to deny undocumented students the opportunity to prove on a case by case basis whether they can meet the standard for in-state tuition.

Let's begin by adding a few facts to the hot rhetorical mix:

1) under current law no one can qualify for in state tuition without proving that they are domiciled in Virginia; see, the Code Section here.

And, the many pages of regulations, starting here.

2) Very few if any undocumented children can meet the current legal and regulatory standard.

So, what would the bill that Marsden voted against do?

It would deny any child who is undocumented the chance to prove that he/she can meet the same eligibility standards for in state tuition as are applied to anyone else.

One young woman who testified in committee against the bill, has a work permit, is paying state taxes (as are her parents) and has lived in Virginia most all of her life. Yet, because she is still in the process of adjusting her status (papers were filed years ago; there was a fraud committed against the family by someone purporting to offer immigration services), under Reid's bill she couldn't even apply to be considered for in-state tuition.

And, for all you guys worried about in-state tuition and slots for Virginia taxpayers ... while this young woman, who is a Virginia taxpayer, was waiting to testify, she had to sit through more than an hour of committee discussion of the many ways that they are changing the law to allow military dependents, (who do not pay Virginia taxes and whose parents choose to have their tax home elsewhere and do not pay Virginia taxes) to qualify automatically for in-state status.

I support the troops and military wives and families, but as a military brat whose father CHOSE to keep his tax home in another state when I was in high school in Virginia, I have no sympathy for those in the military who want the benefit of our Virginia colleges at in-state rates but refuse to become state taxpayers. It wasn't a privilege offered to me when I graduated from high school in Virginia nor did I think that it should be.

Voting against Reid's bill doesn't do anything but preserve the status quo which is simply this:

Everyone living in Virginia has the same opportunity to prove that they are in-state residents on the same standards as everyone else (military families excepted). Very few, if any, undocumented students will be able to meet this standard and there is little evidence that any have done so in the past.

So, the bill Marsden voted against is nothing more than a campaign inspired, do nothing message bill, and we all know what the message was.

Marsden and others were right to vote no.

1 comment:

Mike K said...

So few folks know about these issues, and unfortunately on both sides of the aisle, fewer are sympathetic. Even those in the progressive community continue to embrace the xenophobia bills like this inspire.

I was very disappointed to see even on the leftward leaning Not Larry Sabato a condemnation of Marsden for his vote. However, we all know the author of NLS has his own personal beef with Marsden.

Keep up the fight.