Rick Perry's kinder, gentler view on illegal immigrants: Will it cost him?
Gov. Rick Perry's Texas was the first state to let illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges. He defended that decision during Monday's presidential debate, amid loud boos.
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California's financial aid incentives for students in the US illegally are the most generous in the US. In states that allow such students to pay the same tuition rates as legal state residents, they must prove they have lived in the state at least three years, received their high school diploma or G.E.D. in the state, and sign an affidavit promising to seek legal status.Skip to next paragraph
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Texas and California were the first states to offer in-state tuition rates to such students. During the past decade, 11 states followed their lead: Utah, New York, Washington, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Connecticut. In 2008, however, Oklahoma revoked its law, which had been on the books for five years.
Advocates of the legislation say that by offering in-state tuition rates to children who bear no responsibility for the fact that their parents entered the US illegally, states are making higher education more available to young people who cannot afford the higher out-of-state price tags at public colleges. Critics say the allowance is a burden to taxpayers and unfairly takes resources from potential students who are legal residents.
“These states are recognizing that these are the best of the best – kids who have overcome illegal status and have graduated high school and have gotten into competitive state universities. The states want to hold onto these kids and not have them lost into the underground economy,” Mr. DeSipio says.
But the trend of states granting such tuition benefits to such undocumented students may have peaked, adds DeSipio, especially now that Republican majorities won many statehouses in the 2010 elections and made immigration reform a legislative priority.
Since its passage in 2001, the Texas legislation has applied to 12,138 students, or 1 percent of all Texas college students, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported in 2010.
Though many in the tea party movement no doubt object to Perry's stance on this issue, moderate Republicans may be more inclined to support it, says Leo Chavez, director of the Chicano/Latino Studies Program at UC Irvine. More important, Perry's position will play well with Hispanics, whose population grew 43 percent from 2000 through 2010.
“To make [Perry] out as the devil [over immigration] doesn’t play well nationally for Latinos,” says Mr. Chavez. The other candidates “aren’t looking past the primary, obviously, because they want to win [the nomination].”