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Florida DREAMers Launch "Dream University" for Tuition Equality

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Today, DREAMers and advocates with the Florida Immigrant Coalition have taken over the state Capitol in Tallahassee to launch “Dream University,” an effort to push the state senate — and its president, Don Gaetz — to allow a vote on in-state tuition.

In-state tuition is now law in fifteen states, and has bipartisan support in Florida.  Last month, the state House passed a tuition equality bill by a margin of 81-33, buoyed by the support of GOP Speaker Will Weatherford, who said he wanted to right “an injustice and an inequality for kids who are brought here based on no decision they ever made.”  Governor Rick Scott once ran on an anti-immigrant stance, but has since come around and endorsed the legislation.

With two weeks left to go in the legislative session, the holdup is now Senate President Don Gaetz (and budget chairman Joe Negron), who are holding up a vote on the bill even though 21 out of the chamber’s 40 members are co-sponsors.  In response to the hopeful DREAMers who are campaigning for a better chance to educate themselves, Gaetz has gone right-wing, worrying that tuition equality might benefit students “from countries which are caldrons of terrorism and anti-American violence.”  Are you kidding me?

As a Miami Herald editorial pointed out, Latinos in Florida are an increasing part of the state electorate, with the power to be kingmakers in a state that national Republicans cannot afford to lose.  It’s bad enough that the US House refuses to pass federal immigration reform — now a GOP Senate President is blocking tuition equality in a state that is 23% Latino?  As the Miami Herald wrote, the state GOP rejecting this legislation is “a form of political suicide.”

View a few of the tweets from today’s DREAM University: