Arkansas Senator Pushes for Undocumented Students in Higher Education

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A state lawmaker makes another push for in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants. Last week, Colorado became the 13th state to write a law to allow undocumented students to have in-state college tuition. Arkansas state senator, Joyce Elliott has tried to do the same in the past and hopes this year; it will get the votes needed.

Senator Elliott filed the bill Monday. She sponsored similar measures in 2005 and 2009, both failed. This time around her co-sponsors are Republican… in a Republican controlled legislature. Elliott says she is trying again because it's a human issue.

A U.S. citizen, Adriana Alvarez is an advocate for the DREAM Act. She works with the Arkansas Coalition for a Dream. Alvarez grew up with undocumented friends who were brought to this country as babies, "In the state of Arkansas there are about 12, 000 undocumented students that could benefit."

She says some of her friends went to school from kindergarten to high school in Arkansas, but their goal to attend college is just a dream right now. The reason? Because undocumented students have to pay out of state tuition, costing two to three times more. Alvarez says, "The financial stress for my friends hit me through the heart and also motivated me that I have all these advantages to go to school."

Jeannie Burlsworth with Secure Arkansas says she'll be at the capitol once again to speak against the bill. "We can't support whoever comes into this country regardless of how they got here. This so-called "social justice" is actually social injustice. The way we look at it because this is not something tax payers feel like they have to fund."

Alvarez explains, "No financial aid, no scholarships, just in state tuition, same price as everyone else, that's it." She hopes the third time is the charm for Senator Joyce Elliott's attempt to pass the bill. "I'm sending emails, calling my representatives to make sure they support the bill."

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