Kubacki and Leising argue that the State of Indiana already educates thousands of children of undocumented workers in the state’s K-12 schools, which are barred by federal law from asking students to prove their citizenship status. And they say Indiana, which ranks in the bottom 10 states for residents with college degrees, shouldn’t be cutting off access to college for those who want it.
“Our public K-12 system is accepting 100 percent of these students,” Leising said. “But what we’re basically doing is saying to them: ‘When you graduate from high school, your education stops, unless your parents have become wealthy since they moved here.’”
Opponents of Senate Bill 207 remain steadfast.
“Republican Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel cautioned against Leising’s bill, saying the legislation is in direct violation of federal law. He said current federal law suggests that if a state is to provide this type of benefit, it must make it available to all citizens.
Therefore, all students — including those from other states — would have to be eligible for in-state tuition in order for Leising’s bill to be lawful.
Secondly, Delph argued that if the legislation were to go through as proposed,international students who come to study in the U.S. legally may have a claim to in-state tuition under the equal protection clause of the Constitution. He said it could be debated that these foreign students have a right to the same in-state tuition rates as undocumented students who are, arguably, in the country unlawfully.”
Bill supporters dismiss that argument and cite the dozen states that currently have laws that conditionally allow in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants who reside in those states.
“I’m hoping people are going to realize these students are not going to be deported under federal law,” Leising said. “They’re here. It seems only right that we would want them to maximize their educational opportunities so they can be productive residents of Indiana.”