Oregon House clears bill granting in-state tuition to Illegal immigrants

Campus Reform Reporter
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The Oregon State House of Representatives passed a bill February 22 that would grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants who reside in the state.

The Oregon State House of Representatives passed a bill granting illegal immigrants in-state tuition.

Democrat Rep. Michael Dembrow, the bill’s chief sponsor, hailed its passage as “historic” and Governor Kitzhaber (D) praised the vote for extending “tuition equity for all Oregonians” and pledges to sign the legislation if it reached his desk.

Prior to passage, however, Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 34-26, voted down a proposed amendment that would have required illegal immigrant to begin to work towards citizenship before receiving in-state tuition.

At least one right-leaning organization wary of illegal immigration also expressed concern over the legality of the bill, which still must clear the Oregon state Senate.

Ira Mehlman, the media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an organization which fights for a major reduction in immigration, said he believes the HB 2787 violates a 1996 Congressional provision that required states to extend the same benefits to out-of-states students if they grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.

According to that law: “An alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible...for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit without regard to whether the citizen or national is such a resident.”

“It was clearly the intent of Congress to prevent this,” Mehlman told Campus Reform.

Despite this, Oregon HB 2787 does not extend in-state tuition to out of state students.

Logan Gilles, the Chief Policy Advisor for Rep. Dembrow, dismissed concerns that the bill is unfair in that it doesn’t extend the same tuition benefits to out-of-state students who are US citizens.

“Residents of other states have the opportunity of attending their state’s university system at the in-state rate, or they can move to Oregon and establish residency here,” Gilles stated.

Mehlmann said FAIR also objects to the Oregon legislation because of its cost during a time of budget shortfalls.

“At a time when every state is cutting budgets, slashing higher education, the idea that they’re going to take still more money and subsidize illegal immigrants is one that most people would find objectionable,” he said.

Gilles believes the bill will benefit Oregon in a variety of ways, one way that it will increase the revenue stream for the Oregon University system.

“The Oregon University System has told us that the legislation will be revenue-positive for them, as these students are not currently attending Oregon universities – their tuition will be an increase for the system,” Gilles commented.

The House passed HB 2787 with a vote of 38-18 and it now moves on to the State Senate.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @scottmgreer