A handful of Virginia Democratic lawmakers are supporting bills that would make it easier for illegal immigrants to get a college education. It's what lawmakers are calling the Virginia DREAM Act.
Illegal immigrants, who go to college in Virginia, currently pay out of state tuition, but a northern Virginia delegate is proposing two bills that would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, if they meet certain requirements.
Nelly Moreno-Shank is an advocate for higher education. She is a U.S. citizen and pays in-state tuition for her son, but illegal immigrants don't have that option.
"It is a big concern because first college is very expensive and not being able to get in-state tuition, it will be unaffordable," said Moreno-Shank.
Democratic Del. Alfonso Lopez is proposing to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, if they have been approved to stay in the U.S. by Homeland Security, they have lived here for three years, their parents have paid taxes and they have graduated from a Virginia high school or received a GED.
Those requirements are just for one bill. Another bill has the same requirements except for something that's called the “deferred action notice.” Students will have to prove they have filed an application to become a resident. These two bills will be considered Tuesday in a house subcommittee.
Republican Del. Ben Cline doesn't agree with the proposed bill.
"That's the requirement that is made by current public universities and the current policy is appropriate," said Del. Cline.
For Moreno-Shank, it's not appropriate because she said higher costs stop many illegal immigrants from going to college.
“There are a lot of people that drop out of high school. They think why, when are they going to do that if they don't have access to higher education," said Moreno-Shank.
Del. Cline said the current system works.
“If they aren't eligible, just like any other student outside Virginia, whether is from another state or another country, they're eligible to attend, if they meet the qualifications and pay out of state tuition," said Del. Cline.
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