Illegal Immigrants’ Children May Get In-State Tuition Rates

Jeb Bush says it’s not fair to punish the children of illegal immigrants if they’re trying to build a better life through education.

The governor supports a controversial bill that would let illegal immigrants’ children pay in-state college tuition rates, but the bill still faces an uphill battle in the current political climate.

Florida currently requires children of illegal immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition rates at colleges and universities. That means a college education would cost at least $60,000 more for the son or daughter of an undocumented worker.

Gov. Jeb Bush says that’s not fair to teens who’ve worked hard in school and whose families have otherwise tried to follow the rules.

“My point of view is, if you’ve been in this state for many years, you’re valedictorian of your high school, and your parents have paid taxes and you maybe have been working and paid taxes, you’re an in-state resident.”

The governor supports a bill that would grant in-state tuition waivers to at least 500 children of illegal immigrants. The legislation could cost the state more than $6 million a year if all the slots were filled.

And opponents argue that’s a lot of money to give to folks who broke the law.

Sen. Jim Sebesta voted against the bill in committee last week. He understands that many people believe it’s not fair to punish the kids for the parents’ mistakes, but he can’t see giving those parents a break on tuition.

“People who break the law should not be in this case, given tax breaks. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Even supporters admit making it cheaper for illegal immigrants when many legal residents have trouble paying for college will be a hard sell this year.

The House version of the bill granting children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition has passed its final committee and is poised for a vote on the House floor, but its chances are much slimmer in the Senate, where a similar measure was shot down last week.