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Second Florida Bill Allows In-State College Rates For Kids Of Undocumented Parents

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Another relief bill is being offered by a Miami-Dade legislator for Florida residents who have been denied in-state college tuition rates because of their parents' immigration status.

Republican State Sen. Anitere Flores' bill (SB 180, filed Monday) is similar to a measure (HB 17) that Miami State Rep. Carlos Trujillo filed early in December.

The bills filed for the the session that begins March 5  would allow the in-state rate for undocumented students who were brought to the U. S. as small children. To qualify for the lower tuition, they would have to attend Florida high schools for all four years and enroll in a state college within a year of graduation.

Last year, the Legislature killed a bill that would have done the same thing. StateImpact Florida reported on the back-and-forth between advocates and their main Senate opponent:

(Carla) Montes was born in Miami and graduated from Ronald Reagan High School in Doral. But her parents are undocumented, so she has to pay the out-of-state college tuition rate which is three times higher. Montes told the committee the policy is unfair because she is a lawful Florida resident. “No, no, no, we’re talking about your parents,” Oelrich interrupted, according to the Associated Press. “That’s how we establish residency in the state of Florida, by the status of your parents.” Montes responded by saying, “With all respect, the person who is sitting in the classroom, the person who’s giving back to this economy is me, not my parents.”

The new bills expand on a recent Supreme Court decision that allowed in-state rates for legal residents and U. S. Citizens whose parents are undocumented.

Lawyers on the winning side argued that denying the lower rates to students who would otherwise qualify violated their equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment.