Bill advances in-state tuition for noncitizens
Pushing back on federal policy rollbacks to immigration, the Oregon Senate passed a bill last Monday, Feb. 19, that would allow noncitizens who graduate from Oregon high schools to continue receiving in-state college tuition without having to provide federal documentation.
The legislation was designed to address the Trump administration's plan to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
"These children are our children," said Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, in an emotional speech on the Senate floor Feb. 19. He said children who were brought to the United States by their parents had no choice in the matter and should not be penalized for the rest of their lives.
The Senate passed the bill 17-10, with support from 16 Democrats and one Republican, Sen. Alan DeBoer of Ashland. Ten other Senate Republicans voted against the bill. The bill is scheduled for a potential vote in the House Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 27.
Under existing law passed in 2013, undocumented students have to apply for official federal identification documents to be eligible for resident tuition at Oregon's public universities. The removal of DACA makes those documents impossible to obtain.
The bill essentially removes the requirement to submit an official federal identification document to receive in-state tuition. Instead, students only have to show that they graduated from an Oregon high school. That mirrors eligibility requirements for U.S. citizens in Oregon.
About 216 noncitizens who graduated from local high schools receive in-state tuition at public universities in the state, said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, a chief sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Fred Girod, R-Stayton, said he opposed the legislation because it allows noncitizens to be eligible for scholarships and grants.
If passed by the House and signed by Gov. Kate Brown, the law would take effect immediately.
More than 11,000 Oregonians are DACA recipients, though the bill applies to all noncitizens.