Lack of Immigration Services Carries Down Through Generations in Florida

In the midst of several states debating whether children of undocumented residents should be able to receive in-state college tuition, one state has firmly shot down a bill that would allow its residents this benefit.

On January 31, the Florida Senate’s higher education committee decided not to pass a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Rene Garcia. Current law states that even those born in the United States who have undocumented parents do not qualify for in-state tuition at Florida’s higher education institutions.

Senator Garcia filed the bill as a way to revamp a current injustice in the state, which punishes those with United States citizenship for their parents’ status.

“Right now an American-born citizen cannot qualify for in-state tuition even if he or she meets the residency requirements of the state because of the residency status of their parents,” said Garcia during a January 31 committee meeting.

Opponents of the bill stated that Garcia’s legislation would prompt more illegal immigrants to come to Florida.

“They didn’t ask to be born here. But on the same token, the other part that bothers me is, why would we give favor to children of illegal aliens over children of legal out-of-state, longtime American citizens? That just wasn’t right,” said Florida Senator Steve Oelrich at the meeting.

While Florida’s tuition laws are some of the most stringent in the country, several states have in-state tuition policies that allow undocumented students to pay in-state rates if they meet certain criteria, according to the College Board.

In California, for example, students must have attended a state high school for at least three consecutive years before graduating, and upon entering a college or university, must sign an affidavit promising to file immigration forms to gain legal status. Other states that have limited in-state tuition options for undocumented students include Illinois, New York, Utah and Washington.