Modeled after the federal DREAM Act, Lopez’s bill (HB 1934) would provide in-state tuition at public Virginia universities for undocumented students who graduated from a Virginia high school or GED program, provided they attest to filing an application to become a permanent U.S. resident. The bill would also requires that the student and/or a parent has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least three years.
“A number of talented immigrant students who grow up here and graduate from Virginia high schools are undocumented — through no fault of their own,” Lopez said. “At best, they may be able to take our significant investment in their K-12 education to another state. At worst, they may decide to drop out of high school because college is not a realistic goal.”
“Virginia should be joining states such as Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, New York, Washington, and Oklahoma in passing the DREAM Act and opening this narrow window of opportunity for students,” he continued. “These States understand that encouraging college access and opportunities reduces high school dropout rates and saves long term costs and public benefits spending for the community.”
Lopez introduced the legislation on Wednesday after vowing last year to introduce the bill “every year until it becomes the law of the Commonwealth.”
“I am encouraged by the prospects for HB 1934 this year,” Lopez told ARLnow.com. “More importantly, I remain strongly committed to seeing that undocumented children are given the opportunity to continue their education.”
HB 1934 is now awaiting a vote in the House of Delegates Education committee.