TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Efforts by Florida House Democratic Caucus members to provide in-state tuition for undocumented students living in the Sunshine State – or young people often referred to as “Dreamers” – won approval in the state House of Representatives today.
While House Republicans remain divided and this week weakened the legislation for Dreamers, House Democrats voted today in favor of CS/CS/CS House Bill 851.The “Postsecondary Education Tuition and Fees” bill provides graduating students who have completed four years in a Florida high school the opportunity to receive in-state tuition rates at a Florida postsecondary institution.
The following are some of the remarks of House Democrat Caucus members during debate on the bill:
Rep. Victor Torres (D-Orlando) said: “This is an issue that we Democrats have been fighting for year after year; an issue that I filed a bill on back in November with identical language in partnership with Senator (Dwight) Bullard. I want to thank the members of this legislative body for finally recognizing that we have turned away some of the brightest minds of our state for way too long.”
Rep. Janet Cruz (D-Tampa) said: “For too long, young people have found the road to a college education blocked. They have found the best path to the middle class blocked because of something they had no control over. When they were young, their parents brought them to Florida. They are Floridians as much as you or me. They work hard in school and earn good grades. But young, undocumented students (currently) don’t qualify for in-state tuition. So college is many times more expensive for them than their friends in high school and so expensive that it might as well be impossible.”
Rep. Hazelle Rogers (D-Lauderdale Lakes) said the legislation allows Florida “to join 17 other states in granting children who are here in this country by no fault of their own access to in-state tuition rates. Florida educated these students and now we will have an opportunity for a return on that investment with a more educated workforce and an end to the underground economy that exploits Florida’s undocumented immigrants.”
Rep. José Javier Rodríguez (D-Miami) said that by having to pay tuition that, at times, is “four times the in-state tuition rate,” the current situation “too often closes the door on Dreamers.”