By Joseph Montaño, ACLU of Virginia Immigrants' Rights Coordinator
Today we are testifying in support of three bills that would bring tuition equality to Virginia. Each of the three bills would allow for students granted deferred action under the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program the ability to apply for in-state tuition at Virginia’s public universities and colleges, subject to the students meeting certain requirements (click on the bill to review its specific requirements – HB 59, HB 88, and HB 747).
The path to the American dream is achieved through working hard, attending college, and choosing a career of your choice. It’s for this reason that we support legislation to allow DACA approved students, who, as the bills require, are Virginia residents in all meaningful respects, to be permitted the opportunity to apply for in-state tuition rates.
This legislation would help fulfill the basic American principles of fairness, equality, and opportunity. It would also strengthen Virginia’s economic foundation. For every individual that attends college and obtains a professional job, that means increased earnings resulting in higher taxes paid and more money spent as an investment back into our economy. Support for this legislation is the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Legislation to allow DACA students to apply for in-state status is fundamentally fair and economically just. For the DACA students, this legislation can make the dream of college a reality. It’s time for us to not only do what’s best for our economy and businesses, but also for this group of Virginians. It’s time to bring tuition equity to Virginia.
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