Press Club

Peter’s Take: Support the Virginia Dream Act

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotIn last week’s column, I outlined the reasons to support Medicaid expansion in the 2014 session of the Virginia legislature. Today, I’d like to highlight the reasons why Virginia should pass the Dream Act this year.

The Virginia Dream Act will enable a student who is a child of undocumented immigrants to pay the in-state tuition rate at Virginia colleges and universities—if that student meets certain criteria. In a bill proposed by Arlington Democratic Delegate Alfonso Lopez, a student will be eligible for the in-state tuition rate if he/she:

  1. has attended a Virginia public or private high school for at least three years;
  2. has graduated from a Virginia public or private high school or received a General Education Development (GED) certificate in Virginia;
  3. has registered as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education in Virginia;
  4. has provided documentation that the student has been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and
  5. has submitted evidence that the student (or, in the case of a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis) has filed Virginia income tax returns for at least three years.

Fairfax Republican Del. Tom Rust again will work with Del. Lopez to generate bipartisan support for this legislation.

The moral reasons to support this legislation include:

  1. These students were brought to the U.S. at a young age by their parents, and had no say in the decision to come here. They never made a choice to disregard U.S. immigration law; and
  2. The vast majority of these students are as American as native-born citizens. They speak English, and understand American life and culture.

As explained by Delegate Lopez, we also should support this legislation because Virginia currently has invested taxpayer dollars in these students “from kindergarten through 12th grade, but put up a barrier after graduation that only serves to drive away top talent from Virginia.”

Let’s support passage of the Virginia Dream Act.

It’s right for Arlington and right for Virginia.

Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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