In a surprising and courageous announcement, Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced April 29 that children of undocumented immigrants can qualify for in-state tuition under the law.
In making this historic announcement at the Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College he asserted that ìWe should welcome these smart, talented, hard-working young people into our economy and society, rather than putting a stop sign at the end of 12th grade.î
Mr. Herring said that under current law, Virginia students who are lawfully present in the United States under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program already qualify for in-state tuition as long as they meet the stateís residency requirements. ìConferral of DACA by the Department of Homeland Security has the effect of making the DACA recipient lawfully present in the United States.
Once a student has had DACA for one year, he or she is eligible to establish domicile and qualify for in-state tuition.î
About 8,000 undocumented youths in Virginia have been approved for temporary legal status (DACA) and about 7,000 in Maryland. Early this year, the Republican-dominated Viginia House of Delegates firmly rejected a Dream Act Proposal. Not surprisingly, in an effort to galvanize conservatives across Virginia, Republican legislator were quick to attack Herring’s legal opinion.
The MAHCC Board of Directors asks: Where is Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia at with the Dreamers and in-state tuition?
The Dream Act, first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, by Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch, would provide conditional permanent residency to certain immigrants of good moral character who graduate from U.S. high schools, arrived in the United States as minors, and lived in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment.
It became a political lightning rod during the 2012 presidential election when Mitt Romney (R) opposed college tuition breaks, while at the same time President Obama announced a new program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), allowing some 1.7 million people brought to the country before the age of 16 to apply for de facto residency.
Since then, 20 states have enacted some form of in state college tuition for qualified young illegal immigrants: Virginia, Maryland, Texas, California, Utah, New York, Washington, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Colorado, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Hawaii, Michigan and Rhode Island. The MAHCC will continue its efforts to ensure that Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia allows undocumented young immigrants who have graduated from high school to be able to attend college paying in-state tuition.