February 8, 2012

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February 7, 2012 

Legislation Supporting and Opposing In-State Tuition for Undocumented Immigrant Students is Pulled from the Courts of Justice Committee Docket 

(Richmond, VA) – Delegate Alfonso Lopez released the following statement:  “I am disappointed that HB 779 will not be heard.  I remain strongly committed to seeing that undocumented children are given the opportunity to continue their education and I will continue to introduce this legislation every year until it becomes the law of Virginia.” 

According to Delegate Lopez, “Far too many talented immigrant students who grow up here and graduate from Virginia high schools are undocumented – through no fault of their own.”  He continued, “At best, they may be able to take our investment in their K-12 education to another state.  At worst, they may decide to drop out of high school because college is not a realistic goal.  Virginia should be joining states such as Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, New York, Washington, and Oklahoma in opening this narrow window of opportunity for students.  These states understand that college opportunities reduce dropout rates and save long term criminal justice and public benefits spending and costs.” 

 “Sadly, while considerable progress was made over the past several weeks, HB 779 does not have enough support in the House of Delegates to pass at this time,” Lopez stated.  “Moreover, the legislation that would completely restrict undocumented student access to higher education in Virginia does have the votes to pass.  With that in mind, I have agreed to allow my legislation to not be taken up by the Courts of Justice Committee as long as the opposing bill and an additional unnecessary piece of ‘Sanctuary City’ legislation were also set aside.” 

 Delegate Alfonso Lopez’s legislation, HB 779, would have provided in-state tuition for undocumented students who meet certain criteriaVirginia law currently blocks these students from even trying to qualify for in-state tuition at Virginia colleges and universities.  Moreover, without in-state tuition rates, college is inaccessible to many of these students. 

 Similar to recent DREAM Act legislation that passed the State Senate this limited, sensible approach would enable a number of Virginia’s undocumented immigrant students to qualify for in-state tuition rates.  A student would have to show that she has resided in Virginia with a parental figure for at least three years as of the date of graduation from a public or private high school; sign an affidavit stating that she has applied for and is trying to gain permanent residency status in the U.S; and show that she or her parental figure has filed Virginia state tax returns for the three years prior to enrollment. 

 Legislation that would have done the exact opposite of HB 779 was also introduced this session.  It holds that any individual who is unlawfully present in the United States, and therefore ineligible to establish domicile shall not be eligible on the basis of residency within Virginia for any postsecondary educational benefit including in-state tuition and state financial aid. 


Contact: Jason Stanford


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