Repeal of Immigrant Tuition Bill Draws Support From State Senators

Jean Ortiz, Lincoln Journal Star (Nebraska), December 27, 2009

Nebraska lawmakers are set to again consider repealing a law that offers tuition breaks to some illegal immigrants, and the looming debate is already drawing support.

A majority of lawmakers participating in an Associated Press pre-session survey say they support rescinding the offer made after lawmakers fought to override Gov. Dave Heineman’s veto to pass the law in 2006.

Of the 33 senators responding to the survey, 18 said they support repealing the measure, while six said they don’t. Eight said they’re unsure. {snip}

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The 2006 law benefits students whose parents brought them to the United States illegally. It allows Nebraska high school graduates who aren’t U.S. citizens or legal residents to attend a Nebraska public college or university at the in-state tuition rate. They must have lived in the state for at least three years and must be pursuing or promise to pursue legal status.

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As of mid-December, 35 such students were enrolled in the state university system, according to figures compiled by Janssen’s [Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont] office. That includes 17 at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and 15 at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. State colleges reported none, and community college officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for the information.

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Supporters of Nebraska’s law say it gives an incentive to students to remain in high school, get an education and eventually contribute to society and the economy of the state.

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Opponents say it’s unfair to offer a discount to those breaking the law. They also say it sends the wrong message about Nebraska’s stance on illegal immigration.

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Nine other states–California, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin–have such in-state tuition laws for students who are in the country illegally. Oklahoma repealed its law in 2008.

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