Virginia Republican state Del. Christopher Peace has again introduced legislation to bar undocumented immigrants from attending college in the state.
It is not the first Virginia has attempted to block undocumented immigrants from attending public higher education. Peace’s 2008 effort passed the Virginia House but not the Senate. His 2011 attempt will be similar, but this time Peace says his bill is about addressing immigration issues that the federal government refuses to.
"The federal government has continued to not act in these areas, and as a result, the states are having to across the board look to limit the incentives for people to be here" illegally, Peace said, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
The paper spoke with Isabel Castillo, an undocumented immigrant student and DREAM Act activist:
Castillo of Harrisonburg said the proposal penalizes students like her who had no choice in their parents’ decision to bring them to the U.S. illegally.
"I am a Virginia girl. I started first grade here," said the 25-year-old who has lived in Virginia since age 6, attended public schools, and after graduating with a 4.0 GPA managed to get into a private university to study social work. "We have lived here all our lives. Why not give us the opportunity to pursue higher education?"
If passed, Virginia would become the fourth state to ban undocumented students admission to public higher education. Last year Georgia passed its own ban, barring undocumented students from attending public higher eduction if others have been turned away because of capacity issues.
Undocumented immigrant students that do get to college are not eligible for federal financial aid or other publicly funded student grants.