Pharos-Tribune

Local News

March 24, 2013

Push on to roll back law barring in-state tuition for illegal immigrants

‘We changed the rules on these kids,’ says Hispanic House member.

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 lead 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 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 Republican State Sen. Jean Leising of 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 — benefitting 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 Republican Sen. Carlin Yoder of Middlebury who voted for the original 2011 law. His change of heart came after hearing from students adversely impacted by the 2011 law, including a college student who’d been brought to the U.S. illegally when she was two 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 the 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 was 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. Republican Sen. Mike Delph of 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.

Bill supporters dismiss that argument and cite the dozen states that currently have laws that conditionally allow in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants who reside in those states.

“I’m hoping people are going to realize these students are not going to be deported under federal law,” Leising said. “They’re here. It seems only right that we would want them to maximize their educational opportunities so they can be productive residents of Indiana.”

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

 

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NWS-PT041814 LC50 cords.jpg 50 years later WALTON -- Dean "D.A." Zehring graduated from the current Lewis Cass High School, but he never attended classes there. It's one of the unique characteristics of the graduating class of 1968, the first class to complete all four years of high school un

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Caston considers Logan bus stop FULTON -- Caston Schools administrators are considering establishing a bus stop a few miles outside its boundaries on the north side of Logansport. The school board recently discussed the feasibility of adding a bus stop for students transferring fro

    April 18, 2014

  • mushroom Parks let mushroom hunters forage off-trail INDIANAPOLIS - Rain that pounded Brown County State Park in early April dampened the number of hikers and mountain bikers in Indiana's largest state park, but foragers of the property's 15,000 acres of forest welcomed the weather. With the arrival o

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police blotter: April 17, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 G.jpg Sign of support: Class meant to connect hearing-impaired family members Jordanna Dishner-Rush gestured forcefully to a coat rack hanging in the back of the meeting room at the Logansport Library. She was trying to use just hand motions — no speech — to get the other women to guess the secret word she'd been given. Dishne

    April 17, 2014 12 Photos

  • Logansport graduation rate rises again Logansport High School's graduation rate jumped almost 2 percentage points to 92.9 percent in 2013, data released Wednesday show. The Indiana Department of Education released graduation data for the 2012-2013 school year Wednesday. The data show that

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS-PT041714 Mustangs.jpg Local dealer celebrates the Mustang Fifty years ago today, the Ford Mustang was introduced to the public at the New York World's Fair. Now, six of them will be on display for the next few weeks at Rick's Auto Sales in Logansport celebrating what the business owner says is a half centur

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Redevelopment commission proposes new TIF expansion The Logansport Redevelopment Commission is now considering including land surrounding Water Street in a proposed consolidation of the city's tax increment financing districts. A tax increment financing, or TIF, district, captures the increments of an

    April 17, 2014

  • Bids under budget for Carroll project FLORA -- Bids came in under budget for a two-year construction project set to start this summer at Carroll Consolidated Schools. Fourteen construction bids chosen at the Carroll school board's meeting Tuesday night added up to $7,283,628, well under

    April 17, 2014

  • Bunker Hill parents charged with neglect BUNKER HILL — A month-long investigation by Indiana State Police Detective Mike Tarrh recently resulted in the arrests of Richard Avery Jr., 30, and Heather Avery, 28, both of Bunker Hill. Police say they received information from the Miami County Di

    April 16, 2014

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Should e-cigarette marketing be regulated like tobacco?

Yes
No
Unsure
     View Results
eEdition