Lawmakers Propose Offering Undocumented Immigrants In-State Tuition

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

Harrisonburg, Va. (WHSV) -- A few bills in the General Assembly, if passed, would extend in-state tuition to students who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Republican House Speaker John Boehner isn't looking forward to proposed immigration reform.

"I don't trust that the reform that we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be," said Boehner.

But, lawmakers in the Commonwealth want to take small steps towards it.

Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez from Virginia's 49th District proposed a bill that would help students like Dulce Elias get in-state tuition rates to pay for college if they, "one, graduated from an high school in Virginia, been here for three years and show proof that you've paid taxes," said Lopez.

The would have to be accepted to a college or university and like Elias, be enrolled in the DACA program.

Elias came to Harrisonburg when she was four-years-old as an undocumented immigrant.

Now 17, she sees this country in another light.

"Coming from an undocumented family, my parents are always worried that they might get stopped for simple tail light out and they can get deported from that," said Elias.

Elias is a Junior at Harrisonburg High School. She is also enrolled at Blue Ridge Community College in its dual enrollment program.

By 2015, she'll be a graduate of the high school and she'll also have her Associates Degree.

Right now, if Elias decides to get a bachelors degree she will not be eligible for financial aid and will have to pay out-of-state fees.

"Since we do come from low-income families it's really difficult to pay for college," said Elias.

Elias wants to go into the medical field after high school.

As for Delegate Lopez's bill, it has been recommended by a subcommittee for a voice vote.

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