State House News Service

Mass. To Offer In-State Tuition To Illegal Immigrants

THE STATE HOUSE — Some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children will become eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities and community colleges in Massachusetts as part of a new federal program put in place over the summer by President Obama, according to a senior Patrick administration official.

Obama signed an executive order in June and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in August began accepting applications for “deferred action” from young immigrants who met certain criteria, such as being brought to the country before they turned 16. Qualifying immigrants will be protected from deportation for at least two years, and become eligible to apply for a work permit.

Gov. Deval Patrick on Monday plans to send a letter to Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland explaining that his administration has determined under existing state policy that immigrants granted deferred status by the federal government are eligible for reduced in-state tuition rates at the state’s 29 college and university campuses, the official said.

As with other students, this new group of eligible in-state students will have to comply with all other state residency requirements.

Currently, anyone with a work permit can qualify for in-state tuition. The official, who spoke on background because not all stakeholders had been briefed on the decision, characterized the guidelines as an application of the new federal rules in keeping with existing state policy.

In the letter, Patrick will direct Freeland to share the administration’s direction on tuition eligibility with the chancellors and presidents of the state campuses so that they can begin to implement the policy immediately.

The change in federal immigration policy, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was put in place by Obama over the summer and modeled, in part, on the DREAM Act that lacked enough support to get through Congress.

In order to qualify for “deferred action,” an individual must have been younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012 and come to the United States prior to turning 16. He or she must also have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007 and either be enrolled in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or be a veteran of the military and have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions.

While proponents argue that offering in-state tuition could increase revenue for campuses by attracting students who wouldn’t ordinarily apply, critics contend that illegal immigrants could be taking spots away from legal residents while paying less than students who live along the state borders. Opponents have also expressed concern that in-state tuition rates could be an inducement for illegal immigrants to move to Massachusetts.

Patrick has long supported offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants who grew up and attended high school in Massachusetts. During a radio interview last month, Patrick called it a “matter of fairness.” “They didn’t sneak in,” he said. “They were brought here by their parents. They only know one country and that is the United States,” he said.

In-state tuition at UMass Amherst, for example, costs about $13,000 less for an in-state student.

Patrick stopped by unexpectedly at the last legislative hearing on an in-state tuition bill in 2011, telling lawmakers, “It’s time for us to fix the law.” The governor, however, has never made much of a push to pass legislation beyond public statements of support, and proposals over the years on have failed to generate support in the Legislature.

While it’s unclear how many immigrants living in Massachusetts have applied for deferred status or may seek to take advantage of the reduced tuition rates, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday posted a bulletin indicating that 53,273 people had been approved thus far for DACA benefits.

While nearly 300,000 people have already applied nationwide, Massachusetts did not rank among the top 10 states listed, suggesting that fewer than Virginia’s 5,886 had applied from the state.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has previously estimated that 315 to 365 undocumented immigrants would enroll in public colleges and universities each year if Massachusetts were to adopt in-state tuition rates for graduating high school students in the country illegally. Those students, according to the foundation, could be absorbed into the state’s public higher education system without impact, according to the report.

At least 12 states have adopted laws allowing undocumented immigrants to pay lower in-state tuition rates, including Texas and Connecticut.

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  • Andrew Page

    Why even bother with a student visa?

  • Gcrea

    Between this and the taxpayer-funded sex change for convicted murderers, I honestly don’t know how to react. We clearly have allowed the inmates to run the asylum (and spend our tax dollars!). Our grandparents certainly wouldn’t have tolerated these absurd decisions.

  • MARepublicangal

    Absolutely ludicrous. We are going to become a sanctuary state quicker than you can say GIMME.  I am so sick of my taxes being spent to encourage more illegals to vote Democrat.  Oh, yes… They do vote.  There’s nothing to stop them.  Our governor won’t let us pass any good Voter ID laws.  How else can Deval and the Democrats  increase the share of the Hispanic vote?  Remember what Martha Coakley said, “It’s not illegal to be illegal….”  Soon there won’t be any difference between illegal and legal if THEY have anything to say about it.  Please don’t let them have their way.  

  • smos

    So,  this looks like the illegals will pay less for in state tuition than my son and daughter who were both born and have lived in Massachusetts in their entire lives.  How unfair…. illegals  shouldn’t even be in the country let alone,  attending our colleges and universities.  And if these illegals want to go to our colleges, why do they get a break in tuition when our own students wouldn’t!  I can’t wait to see what’s next!

    • LeonardNicodemo

       Immigrants who are able to contribute to society and be on a level playing field with everyone else, instead of being victims of systematic oppression which makes it even easier for people like you to blame them for all our ills. That’s whats next. And its a beautiful thing.

      • Amcmanda

        I don’t think anyone begrudges immigrants who have entered the US through proper channels all that is rightfully theirs.  They should be as unhappy as I am that immigrants who don’t follow the rules receive a benefit such as this. 

        No one is saying that these children may not enroll in college.  Stop clouding the issue.

      • AlexCristo

        Note from Canada. What nonsense. The free tuition and Leonard’s comment. Specious and does nothing but project. I think it’s valid to question this action. It’s unfair and not right. Period.

    • Respondant

      Pay Less?? You clearly did not read the article. More like pay the SAME!!!

    • Andrew John Scease

      Read the article and stop projecting. It’s in the very first paragraph. “…brought to the country illegally as children will become eligible to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities and community colleges.” I also don’t understand why illegal immigrants “shouldn’t be in the country let alone”. It would be very expensive to have someone accompany them everywhere they go. Probably more expensive than it would be to round them all up and deport them.

  • bob

    Disgraceful but  what do you expect when you vote liberal democratic candidates into office.

  • Paul Trunnell

    Hooray!!!  And to be clear, though their parents may have entered the country illegally, to be eligible for this, their families are now in some government-recognized status (many on amnesty from countries with civil unrest or recovering from hurricanes and other natural disasters) with most paying taxes and going through the steps to become full-fledged citizens.  In many cases, the children have grown up here, and now will have the chance to go to college along with their US-born classmates.  This is great news!

  • Linnie

    perhaps the readers and commenters are not aware that tuition comprises  approximately 10% of the cost of going to instate college – fees are 10 times higher and they never get reduced, just get increased over the years.  Like the Adams Scholarship (free tuition), this  is pr only and doesn`t really make college that much cheaper whether you live in state or not – so calm yourselves people

  • sjw

    This action is very depressing. I pay my taxes and pay 2 out of state tuitions now for my kids. Illegal parents came to this country , break our laws, send thier kids to public schools for free, use our health care for free, work under the table and drive down wages , and now are getting tuition assistance-all at our expense as a society and as taxpayers. There is no justice in this. No other nations would do this, commit suicide as we are doing. If illegals were taking politicians jobs instead of roofers, landscaper and other blue collar workers, then you would see action…

    • Sinclair2

      According to your ideas, they should not attend public schools, remain ignorant, illiterate and stay unhealthy and maybe homeless.  However, they will pay taxes (sales, tolls, gas, real-estate-through-rents, etc.) and get nothing in return.  Frustrated after losing family members to communicable diseases and untreated illnesses, maybe they’ll “self-deport” according to Mitt Romney the “severe conservative”.

  • Sinclair2

    The children of “Illegals” have no control over their geographic home.  Arriving here at age two, for instance, attending local schools and then being charged an out of state tuition price is outrageous.  Their parents have been paying taxes in Massachusetts for years just like everyone else.

    There are U.S. citizens with vacation homes in states where they claim residency for state college tuition reductions in order to beat the system.

    • Amcmanda

      How do you know their parents have been paying taxes?

      But if you want to follow that argument, aren’t the US citizens with vacation homes paying taxes, too? 

      • Sinclair2

        Obviously everyone pays sales taxes, tolls, real-estate-taxes-through-rent, etc. 

        Vacation homes and primary homes are all about where one decides to declare their residence. 

        “Illegals” while living in a state should be able to attend a (public) state college just as they have attended a public school.

        • Amcmanda

          What about income tax?  How do you know they are paying income tax?  Sales tax is essentially unavoidable, depending on the state in which one lives.  Property taxes through rent?  Okay. 

          The point I was making is that the property owners you disparaged are taxpayers, too.  I still do not understand what point you are trying to make here.

          No one is suggesting that the children of illegal immigrants be prohibited from attending college.  The issue here is whether they should be afforded the benefit of in-state tuition rates.

          • Sinclair2

            I did not “disparage” property owners.  Re-read my message.  Children of “illegal immigrants” who are RESIDENTS of this state should be allowed the in-state tuition rate.

  • kyledeb

    Disgraceful headline WBUR.  What judge and jury allows you ro proclaim these young people “illegal”?

  • sj

     Disgraceful action by the governor. the children of illegals are illegals. now more illegasl will come. free health care. free welfare. tuition benefits. dont pay taxes. free public schools . work for cash so drive down wages. dont learn our language .

    • Sinclair2

      According to your ideas, they should not attend public schools, remain ignorant, illiterate and stay unhealthy and maybe homeless. However, they will pay taxes (sales, tolls, gas, real-estate-through-rents, etc.) and get nothing in return. Frustrated after losing family members to communicable diseases and untreated illnesses, maybe they’ll “self-deport” according to Mitt Romney the “severe conservative”.

  • sjw81

     how do you pay taxes with no social security number? or was that stolen also?

    • Sinclair2

      sales tax, real-estate-tax-through-rent payments, tolls, etc.

      • sjw81

        Yes we all pay those taxes you listed. What about income taxes to the federal government and state government, that are then used to fund all these services? My wife and I paid 26% of our income in taxes. How much do illegals pay? They pay even less than Mitt Romney does

        • Sinclair2

          And Warren buffet pays less than his secretary.  There are many (poor) citizens who pay fewer taxes (and no income taxes) than illegals and their kids go to college.

    • sjwa

      what about the income tax we pay to the fed govt and state govt, who then take those taxes and fund all these services?? i paid 25% of my family income on taxes. what do illegal aliens pay? what do thier parents pay? less than the romneys!

    • Wy4801

      With the TAX ID number. Completely LEGAL! 

  • Amcmanda

    I imagine the argument here is that the children should not be punished for the actions of their parents; however, in this case it appears that these children are actually going to be rewarded.

    It is policies like this that continue to encourage illegal immigration.  What are the consequences?  Perhaps if these parents knew that their children would suffer consequences, they would think twice? 

    When I voted two weeks ago, I saw signs p0sted stating that an ID was required upon check-in; however, my ID was not requested.  Seriously?  How is this infringing on anyone’s rights? 

    Unless an individual is truly in need of political asylum, I don’t see why he/she cannot follow the immigration rules just like everyone else and become a legal, documented resident alien.

    I feel very fortunate to have been born in this country, and while this fact is beyond my control ( I did not “decide” to be born here), I believe it is important that we protect the interests of our citizens first (both by birth and by naturalization).

  • Mikberg

    The term “illegal” in the title is wrong. Once they qualify for the President’s new program, they are no longer illegal or undocumented. They can legally work, pay taxes; they should be eligible for drivers’ licenses, in-state tuition, and health insurance.

  • Dreamrequest

    This is a disturbing trend – to me, it’s making 2nd class citizens of US Citizens and those who come here legally. I lived in another state when my son joined the Army. He and his wife are Iraq/Afghanistan war vets with several tours between the both of them. They cannot move here to be around family because they can’t afford out-of-state tuition. The more I see politicians catering to illegal aliens, the more I am against any form of immigration. Tell me what countries are allowing US Citizens to live there, work there, and get lower cost education than their own citizens? I may just want to move.

    • Will

      And this is a disturbing comment.

      • JaimeTeslet

        You are a coward

        • Will

          For commenting? Please, I insist that you explain!

    • Joe

      Lower cost education? This is the same in-state rate that any other MA resident can get. It’s not lower.

    • Andrew John Scease

      Why don’t your son and his wife move to MA and become residents? You don’t have to be born in a state to get that state’s in-state tuition rate, but satisfy the residency requirement. In most cases those requirements are not particularly onerous.

  • NotWhiteyBulger

    My wife’s family are immigrants who came here legally, paid their dues, and worked and paid to become productive naturalized citizens.  Boy, were they suckers.

    What an insult to all those who struggle to do things by the book.  When our government allows others to cut in line to gain cheap political points.

    If we’re bending the rules for people who shouldn’t be here.  Why don’t we just offer in-state tuition to out of state residents.  How can we be so bigoted to children who were born in another state?!  We’re becoming so open minded our brains fall out. 

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