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Florida Bill Would Ban In-State Tuition For Immigrants

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Two years after Florida legislators from both parties passed a bill to give in-state tuition to undocumented students who went to high school in the state, one Republican state senator wants to pass a bill that would roll back the initiative that was heavily supported by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

"It is certainly a big issue in my district among my constituents, who were frustrated and upset that the state would allow undocumented illegal immigrants to receive taxpayer-supported in-state tuition," Republican State Sen. Greg Steube told the Tampa Bay Times. "So I think it's important to file the bill and have a discussion on it."

As it stands now, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and attended high school in Florida are able to receive in-state tuition rates. The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be substantial. For example, at the University of Florida, in-state rates are $6,380, compared to $28,658 for out-of-state students.

"I just don't think it's good public policy for the state," Steube said. "And with the change in leadership and the change in both of the chambers, I think it's a policy that is worth revisiting."

But others said Steube is merely playing politics by trying to repeal a bill that had widespread bipartisan support.

"Clearly, it seems to me that Senator Steube is still in campaign mode and has not transitioned to governing mode," said Republican State Rep. Jeanette Nunez, according to Orlando Weekly.

When the bill allowing in-state tuition passed in 2014, Gov. Scott, a conservative who supported President-elect Donald Trump, said it was a “historic day.”

"Just think. Children that grew up in our state will now get the same tuition as their peers,” he said at the time, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Francesca Menes, policy and advocacy coordinator with the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said the program has been a great benefit to students seeking affordable higher education.

"We know that there are thousands of students who have taken advantage of the in-state tuition bill since it's been passed," she said. 

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Weekly / Photo credit: Jackson Myers/Flickr

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