TALLAHASSEE - Children of illegal immigrants who graduate from Florida high schools could be eligible for in-state college tuition in Florida, even if they too are undocumented, under a bill filed Wednesday by a South Florida Republican.
The bill would provide in-state tuition to the so-called "Dream" students, who were brought to the United States as children and have no legal status, but who often don't remember their "native" country.
The bill (HB 17), filed this week by Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, would apply to several types of students who currently can't get in-state tuition, mainly because of the residency status of their parents.
Trujillo's bill would classify students as Florida residents for tuition purposes if they are lawful permanent residents or qualified legal aliens whose parents are illegally in the country, in addition to U.S. citizen students who were born here to undocumented parents.
Children of illegal immigrants who are American citizens - because they were born in the United States - were recently given the ability to get in-state tuition status by a federal court ruling. That ruling, however, didn't cover the broader group of students covered by Trujillo's bill, such as those who are themselves illegal immigrants, such as those students brought to the country by their parents.
Students would have to attend a Florida high school for all 4 years and would have to enroll in college within a year of leaving high school under the measure.
Earlier this week, Democratic Rep. Reggie Fullwood of Jacksonville filed legislation (HB 11) to make it clear that students who are American citizens can get in-state tuition even if their parents are illegal immigrants. That bill may be largely symbolic because a federal court in Miami earlier this year ordered the Department of Education to treat those students as Florida residents for tuition purposes, even though traditionally residency status of college students has been determined by the residency status of their parents.
Trujillo's bill is yet to be referred to a committee.