by Joseph Montano, ACLU of Virginia Immigrants’ Rights Coordinator
Last week, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that students who qualify for deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and meet other criteria generally applicable to all students can qualify for in-state tuition rates at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. What is DACA? How will offering in-state tuition to DACA recipients impact the Commonwealth and these students? We’ll be answering these and other immigrants’ rights related questions during this week’s #libertychatVA on twitter. Join us this Wednesday from 12 to 1pm and tweet us your questions!
Previously, if you graduated from a VA high school, had parents who paid VA taxes, were accepted at a VA college or university, but were brought without authorization to the U.S. as a child, you would have to pay out-of-state tuition — even if you were given permission to lawfully remain in the U.S. through the DACA program. As a result, DACA students, who are Virginians in every meaningful respect, were excluded from accessing affordable higher education.
To challenge this unjust outcome, we worked with a diverse coalition to bring tuition equity to Virginia. We are pleased that the Attorney General agreed with our request to find that DACA students can qualify for in-state tuition. In a letter addressed to the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV), Virginia Community College System (VCCS), and Virginia’s Public Colleges and Universities, Attorney General Herring said that DACA students “are capable of establishing domicile and qualifying for in-state tuition in accordance with Virginia Code § 23-74.”
The impact of this announcement will resonate throughout the Commonwealth. Providing Virginia’s DACA students with the opportunity to apply for in-state tuition rates will not only provide economic benefits to the Commonwealth, but will also help thousands of DACA students achieve their dreams of higher education. We thank Attorney General Herring for moving Virginia in the right direction, for recognizing that tuition equity is essential to fulfilling the basic American principles of fairness, equality, and opportunity. And, we look forward to the conversation this Wednesday!
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