DREAMers Now Eligible for Virginia In-State Tuition

by Josh Encinias

Democratic attorney general Mark R. Herring reversed Virginia state policy on Tuesday to allow public universities to charge in-state tuition rates to students who came here illegally when they were young.

Herring sent letters to public university and community-college officials saying that state and federal law does not prevent students who were transported here illegally when they were younger from receiving the state’s substantial in-state tuition discount. The one caveat: The student has to have qualified for the special status offered by the Obama administration to young illegal immigrants, a deferred-prosecution deal that resembles the unpassed DREAM Act and also allows them to work legally.

Other states have passed legislation allowing illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition, and Virginia had considered a bill essentially formalizing the legal status of the young aliens, “DREAMers,” who have been eligible for the Obama-administration deferred-prosecution deal. That bill had failed in the state house, and Republican legislators have accused Herring of short-circuiting legislative debate.

“In most cases they were raised here, they graduated from Virginia schools, and they have known no home but Virginia,” Herring said in a statement. “Instead of punishing and placing limits on these smart, talented, hard-working young people, Virginia should extend them an opportunity for an affordable education.”

Herring won an excruciatingly close election last fall against Republican state senator Mark Obenshain.