added May 10: Below, and on the video, I urge people to contact Dave Hunt, co-chair of the Rules Ctte. More important, however, is to get Andy Olson, Rep Hunt's co-chair, to move this bill forward. When you contact your representative, also contact Olson's office and insist (nicely) that the House get a vote on this bill: 503-986-1415.
On Wednesday, May 11, the House Rules Committee will hold a public hearing on SB 742, Tuition Equity. This bill would ensure that students who have lived and been educated in Oregon are able to continue their education and contribute back to the state by allowing them to pay in-state tuition at an Oregon college or university. The Rules Committee meets at 3pm; at least one Republican member of the committee will need to vote to move the bill to the full House or it will die without a vote.
This is not a complicated bill. Either the Legislature chooses to allow theses students — the children of undocumented immigrants — to complete their public education at an Oregon college or university, or they do not. Currently, because these students are not citizens, they are classified as “out-of-state” — an odd definition given they are not legal residents of another state. But they are Oregon residents, legal or no; to be eligible for in-state tuition under SB 742, they must have lived in and attended school in Oregon during the previous 3 years (or during the past 5 years else in the country), getting their high school diploma in the process. They must also demonstrate they are pursuing a path to citizenship, a requirement of the ten states which currently have Tuition Equity laws.
Citizenship is a bit of a problem.
These kids did not enter the United States illegally; they were brought to this country by their parents as infants and toddlers. Yet they do not have a path to citizenship other than that which must be followed by an illegal immigrant. At some point, when the federal government gets around to fixing the mess that is immigration, such residents will require a path that does not force them to leave the country. For these kids, the United States is their home, the only one they’ve known. And as Rep Michael Dembrow pointed out in his testimony, Oregon needs to be in the same position as Texas, Utah, Arizona, California and the other states with Tuition Equity laws: ready to integrate these children into society fully. To do so, we need to ensure they are educated and capable of joining the workforce, not as low-skilled laborers but as highly trained, highly motivated, creative contributors to our society and community.
This is not a complicated bill. For progressives, it’s a gimmee. It’s a just bill, as Sen Larry George noted in several hearings, and it’s a smart bill. Sen Frank Morse opposed Tuition Equity several years ago; this year, he is a sponsor and chief spokesperson for this bill. Why? Because it’s fair to these kids and it helps Oregon become a better state.
The hearing is at 3pm in Room 50 at the Capitol (that’s the basement). Get there early if you plan to testify. You can watch the hearing online as well.
Contact your state representative and Rep Dave Hunt, Co-chair of the Rules Committee, to insist the bill be sent from Rules to the full House for a vote. Don’t let it die in committee; that’s just not democratic.