SB 742: doing right by Oregon & undocumented students

T.A. Barnhart

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.

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    In-state tuition rates for undocumented foreign nationals whose families brazenly flouted immigration laws while charging the maximum premium for all legal residents in the other 49 states. Really?

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      Brian, the student did not commit a crime; they are not illegal. they truly are undocumented. they are also Americans in the same way the original Barnharts were over 300 years ago: they showed up. unlike my ancestors, these kids were not invaders; they were innocents brought by their parents. and in America, we do NOT punish children for what their parents did.

      and unlike the residents of the other 49 states, we're talking about kids who live in Oregon, not Idaho or elsewhere. their parents, although illegal, still pay taxes, etc (albeit with false id's, no doubt). so they are not getting anything their families having contributed for.

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    This is indeed a no-brainer and has a wide swath of support from both sides of the aisle, including Association of Oregon Industries and Portland Business Alliance.

    This bill would not have a negative revenue impact on our higher ed institutions, as the out of state tuition costs are so great, that the vast majority of students never had attending our colleges and universities as a real option.

    Oregon students who have worked hard to be successful high school graduates deserve this opportunity, and Oregon will be better off for doing so.

    As one 12 year old student said to me, "If you ask me, it feels like we are being punished for working hard and wanting to go to college.'

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    It may be a "no-brainer" from a strictly emotional standpoint and I don't doubt that PAC's are pandering for the Latino vote. Doesn't change the fact that the 12 year old illegal alien would be receiving a huge tuition break over the legal 12 year old in 49 states.

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      No, the 12 year old child would be paying the same tuition rate as any other Oregon student at an Oregon public college. Oregon would join 10 other states in tuition equity. Most of these children came here with their parents, as you would expect. We have already invested significant public dollars in educating these students in our K-12 schools, rightly so. It only seems logical and pragmatic to get a better return on our investment by giving more students a path to higher education. The only purely emotional arguments I have heard and read are from extreme anti-immigrant groups.

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      Yes, because everyone knows just how much political power is wielded by people with no legal rights.

      The fact of the matter is that the Oregon Constitution does permit the state to establish nor enforce immigration laws, nor treat Oregon residents differently, regardless of citizenship, since the repeal of Article I, Section 31 in 1970.

      This bill does nothing more than to bring Oregon statute into line with the requirements of the Oregon Constitution in a manner consistent with federal requirements.

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    Thanks for the correction at the top, TA. Rep. Hunt supports the tuition equity bill, as do all House Democrats on the Rules Committee. The hearing is being held tomorrow because Rep. Hunt was willing to use his one free pass to schedule a hearing over the Republican co-chair objections. But it would take both Rep. Hunt and Rep. Olson to schedule a work session to actually get a committee vote and move the bill to the floor. That's why TA is telling folks to call Rep. Olson.

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    One can be pro-immigrant while believing the rule of law & borders still matter.

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    It certainly makes sense that the 12 year-old in Oregon would pay less than the 12 year-old in another state because for the Oregon student, her/his parents have been paying Oregon property taxes and income taxes during the student's academic career. The parents of out-of-state students don't pay Oregon taxes, but in state residents do regardless of their status.


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