Earlier this week Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced that he wants to revive a contentious issue and bring back in-state tuition for undocumented college students.
It’s just one of a set of recommendations from an advisory panel on immigration; Patrick said even though most have already been put in place he wants to implement the rest.
“I know that embracing newcomers is out of fashion these days,” Patrick told a crowd of immigrant advocates at a Thanksgiving luncheon. “Concern over illegal immigration has become so shrill that all immigrants get swept up in that emotion. I want you to know that you are welcome here in this Commonwealth. This is your Commonwealth. This is your home. And we welcome you.”
The Massachusetts state legislature attempted to pass a bill granting undocumented college students in-state tuition, but it failed. An estimate at the time said that it would bring in $2.5 million in revenue if even 600 students enrolled. The measure did not make it through the House. And this May the Massachusetts Senate passed an amendment that actually banned in-state tuition for undocumented students.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, which was hosting a Thanksgiving luncheon where Patrick gave his remarks, said that Patrick owed his re-election to the state’s immigrant population, reported the Boston Herald.
“Now, as we stand on the threshold of another four years, I want to commit to you that we will implement this report in its entirety, working with you, over the next several years,” Patrick said.
Republican legislators have already criticized Patrick’s plan—House Minority Leader Bradley Jones Jr said Patrick’s proposal was “a ridiculous idea,” and said the matter should not be a priority for the governor. Jones said he was confident any proposal of its kind would not pass.
Patrick’s announcement came a day after California’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld AB 540, the state law that allows anyone who’s gone to three years of high school in California to qualify for in-state tuition, regardless of their immigration status.