Florida trying to pass illegal alien tuition break.
Nation: Unacceptable no matter what. Taxpayers should not give a break for illegals, all it does is add incentive for more illegals to come to the state.
|Children who are undocumented typically can't afford college because they can't show they're legal Florida residents, meaning they can't get in-state tuition, which is much cheaper than what other students pay. The measure that passed the House would only give the break to the brightest of those children, reserving the in-state tuition for the 500 top undocumented students graduating from high schools in Florida each year. The students must show they have been in Florida with their parents at least three years to qualify. Rep. Juan Zapata, who has pushed the idea in the House, said undocumented children aren't the same as illegal adults, because they did nothing wrong. "This ... is about giving children an opportunity to live a better life," said Zapata, R-Miami. He said the students that would benefit would be the most motivated and have hopes for a better life than their parents had in their home country. "Imagine having that taken away because of what your parents did," Zapata said. But opponents of the idea say it isn't fair for the state to give a tuition break that would essentially reward parents who have broken the law. Opponents also say their constituents are simply not in favor of helping pay for the education of illegal immigrants' children. "We can't pay for tuition for our own people," said Lee, R-Valrico. "I have no anger toward people who come here seeking a better life, but doggone it they ought to pay their own way and come here legally. And its not our job to subsidize illegal activity." The language creating the out-of-state tuition waiver that passed the House on a 91-21 vote was part of a broader bill (HB 795) aimed at helping first generation college students pay tuition. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would put $14 million of state money into a program that would provide scholarships to certain low-income students who are part of the first generation in their family to go to a state university or community college that is willing to match the money. That idea was part of Gov. Jeb Bush's plan for making college more accessible to minorities. A spokesman for Bush, Russell Schweiss, said the governor hadn't reviewed the immigrant language in Flores' bill. But Schweiss did note that Bush has in the past supported giving in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants, an idea that has passed the Senate the last two years, but died in the House. .....That measure was before the House Education Council Friday. There, Zapata, who was raised in Colombia, but whose parents became American citizens, got emotional in arguing for its passage. "People have gotten really mean about this issue, saying somehow these kids should be punished for what their parents did," Zapata said, fighting tears. The council approved his bill unanimously. But the Senate version (SB 366) of the stand-alone immigrant tuition bill, sponsored by Sen. Fredrica Wilson, D-Miami, was defeated earlier this week in the Senate Domestic Security Committee, where it died on a 4-4 vote. Flores' broader scholarship bill is now headed to the Senate, and Wilson vowed to push to get it heard there, despite Lee's opposition and the defeat of the same basic idea in a committee. "It's going to be a battle," she said. But she said the measure would only benefit a small number of children who without it will be doomed to a lifetime of poverty like their parents.|