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Missouri Immigration Policy Coalition dismayed with legislature’s bait-and-switch maneuver on tuition rates for undocumented students

  

Press release

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The ACLU of Missouri, part of the Missouri Immigration Policy Coalition, is dismayed that the Missouri Legislature reversed course on House Bill 3 (HB 3), blocking the ability of undocumented students, including DACA recipients, to receive in-state tuition.

In 2015, the Missouri Legislature unconstitutionally legislated through the budget to penalize universities who offered in-state tuition to DACA recipients. Late last night, the legislature recommitted to this injustice. They backtracked on their compromise from just days ago that allowed undocumented students to receive in-state tuition.

With the constitutional deadline to pass the budget looming less than 24 hours away, legislators showed their willingness to risk over $994 million dollars in funding for higher education so that they could reinstate language denying in-state tuition rates to students who are undocumented. Instead of staying in Missouri, a state many of these students have held as home since childhood, Missouri politicians force DACA students to leave by requiring them to pay international tuition rates, three times the tuition rate of their Missouri peers.

“This maneuver is unethical, it is fiscally irresponsible, and it is offensive to Missouri’s immigrant community,” said ACLU of Missouri Legislative and Policy Director Sara Baker. “Missouri legislators have chosen to legislate based on anti-immigrant fear rather than common sense and a shared belief in opportunity for all our students. Missouri has proven once again that its positions are extreme, out of line even with other conservative states.”

“MIRA is extremely disappointed that MO legislators reversed the Budget Conference Committee’s recommendation,” said Andrew Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Missouri Immigrants and Refugee Advocates (MIRA). “Withholding the potential of affordable higher education from undocumented Missouri immigrants, including DACA recipients, is bad for our state both ethically and economically. Today many legislators showed they only care about partisanship and not the people of Missouri.”

Kansas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma are among nearly 20 states that offer in-state tuition rates to undocumented students. Without changing this policy, Missouri cannot hope to retain talented students with diverse backgrounds.

House Bill 3 now heads Governor Parson’s desk. We urge him to strike this unconstitutional language and support Missouri’s students, no matter where they come from.

The ACLU of Missouri is proud to be a part of a coalition effort that advocated for this shift. The Missouri Immigration Policy Coalition includes Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates, Missouri Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, St. Francis Community Services, Casa de Salud, the International Institute of St. Louis, KS/MO Dreamers, the Muslim Civic Initiative Kansas City, Advocates for Immigrants Rights & Reconciliation, and Kingdom House.