The Florida Legislature just passed legislation allowing children of immigrants who came here as youths to pay in-state tuition rates to attend the state’s public colleges and universities. The passage of the bill which the governor intends to sign marks a shift for the state’s legislative bodies which, just three years ago, focused its attention towards enforcement issues when addressing immigration matters.
Since that time, however, some parts of immigration laws passed by other states, such as Arizona and Alabama, have been found by courts to be unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Obama administration which ramped up border patrols and deportations during most of the President’s first term has shifted towards defining categories of potential deportees who may be exempt from deportation under current federal law. These shifts, combined with the recognition by many legislators that the Latino community is the fastest growing segment demographically in our country, probably contribute to the new approach towards permitting such students the chance to qualify for the lower tuition rates.
In doing so, Florida becomes the twentieth state to put in place such a measure. At least 15 legislatures have enacted in-state tuition legislation, a third of them in the past two years. In other states, either the Boards of Regent responsible for overseeing higher education or the Attorney General implemented this type of policy change. In Virginia the lower tuition rates are available to those students who would also be eligible for exemption from deportation under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action program, known as DACA.
The State of Florida, which already passed a law giving certain undocumented immigrants the chance to practice law in the state, now, plans to address whether to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue drivers’ licenses to those who are present in the country without a visa.
In the meantime, it is critical, in the event that reform does become law that the immigration attorneys in this country be prepared for the new category of cases any new law is likely to generate. Edward Shulman, Esq, founder of The Shulman Law Group, LLC is a national speaker for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, and to advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice. In the course of Mr. Shulman's involvement with AILA, he has been dedicated to educating other immigration attorneys about the import of helping intending immigrants to navigate a new cultural system. He meticulously follows all of the developments occurring in the battle over immigration reform so that he will be prepared to effectively assist his clients obtain residency if a new system is enacted.