Two weeks ago, our movement won a big victory in Maryland, where the passage of Question 4 protected DREAMers’ affordable access to higher education in the state. Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts took the fight another step forward when he announced that Massachusetts DREAMers will now be able to pay the same tuition rate as in-state residents. Here’s more from the Boston Globe:
Patrick’s announcement, reported by the Globe on Sunday, dramatically slashes the cost of a college education for immigrants who until now had to pay out-of-state rates.
For example, the flagship University of Massachusetts Amherst costs $26,645 this year for nonresidents, compared with $13,230 for residents, while Bunker Hill Community College costs $5,640 this year for residents, compared with $13,880 for nonresidents. And Framingham State costs $8,080 for residents this year, compared with $14,160 for nonresidents.
“These are not outsiders, these are residents and taxpayers who pay their dues to Massachusetts,” Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said before hosting an annual Thanksgiving lunch celebrating new citizens at the State House.
Millona said the new federal program is a “temporary fix” until Congress passes a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system.
US Representative Michael Capuano, who spoke at MIRA’s lunch, said he was hopeful changes to federal immigration law would be addressed in this congressional term, but problems must be addressed in the meantime.
“We have a lot of mistakes we’re trying to fix with Band-Aids. I hate the Band-Aid approach, but sometimes its necessary,” he said.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray said it made economic sense to help young immigrants earn an education and a productive living after they attended public elementary and high schools.
“It’s making good on an investment so many of our taxpayers have already made,” Murray told the lunch crowd. “It’s important that we realize the full payoff of that investment by allowing them to go on.”
Roughly 12 states across the nation allow DREAMer students to claim in-state residency and pay in-state tuition. About six states have done the opposite, explicitly barring DREAMers from qualifying for in-state tuition.
During the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney attacked Texas Governor Rick Perry for supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students, while boasting about his veto of similar legislation when he was Governor of Massachusetts. He thought it made him look tough. In reality, it reinforced his craven anti-immigrant image — and, as we all know, that played a decisive role in his defeat.
Thanks to Governor Patrick for doing the right — and the humane — action for his state’s DREAMers.