FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2014
Groups Release Information to Help Immigrant Students
Take Advantage of New College Tuition Law
MIAMI – The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Florida Immigrant Coalition released information today that will help immigrant students take full advantage of a new state law that makes them eligible for in-state college tuition rates even if they were brought to the United States without papers.
Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Scott signed H.B. 851 into law, making the dream of a college education closer to reality for these rising entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders. Students who believe they may benefit from the law are urged to find more information about the requirements by visiting the websites of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) or the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC).
“Rather than punish them for something beyond their control, Florida has chosen to help these students become integrated members of our communities and better contribute to our state’s thriving economy,” said Manoj Govindaiah, an SPLC staff attorney. “We want to be sure these students have the tools they need to take full advantage of the law’s benefits.”
The information includes guidance about how and when the law applies, along with answers to other frequently asked questions.
“Expanding access to college is a win-win for Florida’s families and our economy. Young people can now, not only dream about what they can become, but actually have a chance at achieving it. After spending years fighting anti-immigrant bills, we welcome this change. It is good to see leadership recognize the value of our current and potential contributions as immigrants in Florida” said Maria Rodriguez, of Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC).
The SPLC has long championed the rights of immigrant students across the Deep South by challenging policies that needlessly punish them for being brought to the United States as children.
In Florida, an SPLC lawsuit blocked a policy that forced the children of undocumented immigrants to pay out-of-state tuition rates even when they were U.S. citizens born and raised in the state. A federal judge found in 2012 that the policy violated the U.S. Constitution, clearing the way for these students to attend college at affordable rates. H.B. 851 further expands meaningful access to Florida’s colleges and universities to immigrant students, allowing them to reach their full potential, and allowing Florida to benefit from these students’ ingenuity and creativity. The SPLC also helped students in other states and blocked policies targeting children of undocumented immigrants in Alabama and South Carolina.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition has been instrumental in investing and emboldening young immigrants known as Dreamers. FLIC began its fight for tuition equity over a decade ago. As recently as 2011, FLIC successfully pushed back against anti-immigrant legislation. After supporting the implementation of the bill to insure its full utilization, the organization will set its sights on ensuring that all Floridians have equal access to driver’s licenses, regardless of status.
The groups plan to reach out to students across the state who may be eligible for in-state tuition rates. A copy of the materials can be viewed at http://sp.lc/1hBu1SE.