Mt. Vernon Register-News

Community News Network

March 25, 2013

Indiana's tuition law gets one more look

Legislators reconsider status of immigrant students here illegally

INDIANAPOLIS —  Two years ago, Indiana lawmakers bent on cracking down on illegal immigration passed a law that banned in-state college tuition for children of undocumented workers, and resulted in hundreds of students dropping out when they couldn’t afford the much higher out-of-state rates.

Now there is an effort to roll back that law. It’s led by some conservative Republican legislators who see the ban as both unfair to children brought here illegally by their parents and contrary to the state’s effort to produce more college graduates.

“There is not a downside to educating every student, whether they’re undocumented or not,” said state Rep. Becky Kubacki of Syracuse, the first Hispanic Republican elected to the Indiana General Assembly.

In February, the Republican-controlled state Senate passed legislation, Senate Bill 207, that would allow students who were enrolled in college when the 2011 law took effect to be eligible again for in-state tuition.

Kubacki is sponsoring that bill in the House, where some of her Republican colleagues are working to expand it by amending the legislation to cover more children of undocumented workers who are residents of Indiana. Details of the amendment have yet to be made public, but it’s expected to spark a vigorous debate.

“I never, ever dreamed there would be discussion in the House of expansion (of the bill),” said state Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, who authored Senate Bill 207. “But maybe enough legislators have talked to these kids and heard their plight and struggle.”

Leising kept the parameters of her bill narrow — benefiting only students already enrolled in college when the in-state tuition ban took effect in 2011 — believing it was the only way it would pass. Similar legislation was shot down last year after a fierce lobbying blitz by opponents who saw it as a form of “amnesty” for people here illegally.

Among the supporters of Leising’s bill is Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, who voted for the original 2011 law. His change of heart came after hearing from students adversely affected by the 2011 law, including a college student who’d been brought to the U.S. illegally when she was 2 months old.

“These kids are victims,” Yoder said during a hearing on Senate Bill 207. “They‘ve done nothing wrong. They are not at liberty to tell their parents what to do when they cross this border, and I’m not sure how we as a society here in Indiana benefit by trying to limit their possibilities.”

That’s the case Kubacki is hoping to make as well in the House. Kubacki, whose maiden name is Espinoza, is a second-generation American and the daughter of migrant farm workers.

As a freshman legislator, she voted for the 2011 law. Its defenders at the time said it would it send a clear message that Indiana would no longer be a “sanctuary” for undocumented workers who were in the U.S. illegally because of the federal government’s failure to act on illegal immigration.

But she later came to regret that vote, especially after hearing from students who dropped out of college because they couldn’t afford the non-resident tuition; it’s $31,000 a year at Indiana University compared to $10,000 for in-state students.

“We changed the rules on these kids, which is just not the fair thing to do when they were already in college and headed on a career path,” Kubacki said.

“At the time when I supported the bill, I was looking at things in a very black-and-white fashion,” she added. “But when you stand back and analyze things, things aren’t black and white. There is a lot of gray.”

Kubacki and Leising argue that the state of Indiana already educates thousands of children of undocumented workers in the state’s K-12 schools, which are barred by federal law from asking students to prove their citizenship status. And they say Indiana, which ranks in the bottom 10 states for residents with college degrees, shouldn’t be cutting off access to college for those who want it. “Our public K-12 system is accepting 100 percent of these students,” Leising said. “But what we’re basically doing is saying to them: ‘When you graduate from high school, your education stops, unless your parents have become wealthy since they moved here.’”

Opponents of Senate Bill 207 remain steadfast. Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, who argued for the 2011 bill that barred in-state tuition for students who couldn’t document they were here legally, argued against Leising’s bill. He said it may violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution and would allow foreign students who come to study in the U.S. legally to claim a right to in-state tuition.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Clinton coming to eastern Kentucky to stump for Grimes

    By RONNIE ELLIS
    CNHI News Service

    GLASGOW — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is again calling in the “Big Dog” in her quest to unseat five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

    July 27, 2014

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks