TOPEKA, Kan. — People who entered the U.S. illegally would be barred from receiving in-state tuition under a bill discussed by a Kansas House panel Tuesday.
The House Education Committee held a hearing on a bill that would make anyone who entered the U.S. illegally ineligible for reduced tuition normally offered to state residents. People in the U.S. illegally first became eligible for in-state tuition in Kansas in 2004.
Republican Rep. John Rubin of Shawnee, who sponsored the bill, said existing legislation provides an incentive for illegal immigration.
"It makes no sense to me to promise our citizens that we will enforce our borders and enforce the rule of law on immigration and then to turn around and reward those who break those very laws that come to this state," Rubin said.
But representatives of state school boards and the Board of Regents testified against the bill, along with a number of students who said the move might keep them from being able to afford to finish college.
Fred Logan, who was appointed to the Board of Regents by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in 2011, testified against the measure, saying that 651 college students who entered the country illegally would be affected by the bill. Most entered the U.S. as children, grew up in Kansas and went through its public school system, he said.
"The children of undocumented persons who are making use of these in-state tuition rates are exactly the types of students that we want in Kansas," Logan said, adding that their circumstances makes them particularly motivated to succeed.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach also testified in favor of the bill, having served as the lead lawyer representing parents of students from neighboring states in a lawsuit against Kansas over the law. A federal court determined that the parents did not have standing for their complaint and dismissed the case in 2005.