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Breaking news today: Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring has announced that DACA-recognized DREAMers living in Virginia will now qualify for in-state tuition rates when attending the state’s public colleges and universities.
As Herring said in a press release:
If the Commonwealth is to remain competitive in a global economy, we must embrace a strategy that maximizes our talent pool and helps all Virginians reach their full potential. These ‘DREAMers’ are already Virginians in some very important ways. In most cases they were raised here, they graduated from Virginia schools, and they have known no home but Virginia. They might be the valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school, but because they were brought here as children many years ago, an affordable education remains out of their reach. Instead of punishing and placing limits on these smart, talented, hard-working young people, Virginia should extend them an opportunity for an affordable education. It’s what the law requires, it makes economic sense for Virginia, and it’s the right thing to do.
The announcement would affect some 8,100 Virginia DREAMers who have had their applications for DACA approved. Nineteen states around the nation have enacted some form of tuition equality, with others — including Florida — continuing to work hard to pressure lawmakers to pass their own state bills. According to Herring’s press release, Maryland has seen an increase in graduation rates among Latino students since enacting tuition equality and state officials believe it is because students who may have once dropped out are now completing high school because they see realistic options for continuing education.
In a press release, the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations quoted one DREAMer who will benefit from the announcement — Alejandro Zuñiga, a Virginia high school graduate — who said:
I have had to suspend by studies for an entire year due to the high tuition costs. Today’s decision is a huge relief for me and the thousands of DREAMers who have grown up here and want to contribute to Virginia’s future.