RICHMOND—State lawmakers are debating legislation that would forbid illegal aliens from attending state-sponsored colleges, a measure that, if approved, would put Virginia at the forefront of immigration reform in the United States.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a state doing anything like this,” said Lynda S. Zengerle, a lawyer who heads the Immigration practice in the International Group at the D.C.-based law firm of Steptoe and Johnson.
Delegate David B. Albo, the Fairfax County Republican who co-sponsored the bill, said the state has been forced to take strong measures against illegal aliens because seven of the September 11 hijackers possessed Virginia driver’s licenses.
“We were put in a situation where we had to do something,” Mr. Albo said. “We certainly are in the forefront of the problem.”
Mr. Albo said there are 200,000 illegal aliens in Virginia, and he wants to see strict reforms that will limit their access to any local and state benefits, including Medicaid.
The House Education Committee on Monday voted 16-6 to approve Mr. Gear’s bill. The House is expected to debate the bill today. The bill could pass by the end of the week. It faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where a similar bill was rejected last year.
Last year, Delegate John S. “Jack” Reid, Henrico County Republican, authored a bill that would have required colleges to turn away aliens or expel those who mistakenly were enrolled. The bill passed the House on a 72-23 vote but was rejected in the Senate Education and Health Committee on a 12-2 vote.