Illegal Immigrant Tuition Bill Goes Before A&M Student Senate

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A controversial student government bill was debated Tuesday night at Texas A&M is now being sent to the External Affairs Committee for continued debate this fall.

Senate Bill 63-11 would establish the A&M Student Senate's opposition to in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

So far 34 student senators have sponsored the bill.

And Tuesday night more than 40 people protested outside of Rudder Tower and had their voices heard at the student government meeting.

"Our in state tuition bill if passed will say that the students of Texas A&M University oppose any measure to give in in-state tuition to persons residing in the United States Illegally," said Justin Pulliam, a Texas A&M University Student Senator.

Pulliam is one of three student senators introducing senate bill 63-11.

The Texas Aggie Conservatives Chairman say it's all about leveling the playing field for out of state students who pay higher tuition.

"Well it doesn't seem fair or right that students who are legal citizens who live outside of the state of Texas have to pay out of state tuition which is thousands more per year while persons illegal in this country get the cut rate of instate tuition," Pulliam added.

"I don't think they should get a discount price if they aren't even supposed to be here to begin with that's not really fair to the Tax payers of the state who have lived here and paid taxes for all those years, to reap the benefits. It doesn't seem fair or right," said Dylan Oliphant, a Texas A&M Student.

So far more than 1,300 people have joined a Facebook page supporting Pulliam's plan, but opposition is also mounting.

More than 40 people, many who are undocumented students protested outside of Rudder Tower and also had their voices heard at Tuesday night's Student Government meeting.

"We just don't agree with it and we just want these undocumented student to have the opportunity just like everybody else," said Jose Luis, a Texas A&M Student.

Luis said the current law signed by Governor Rick Perry in 2001 has requirements in place when immigrant students are scrutinized for in-state tuition.

"One of the things about Senate Bill 2815 is undocumented students have to have been in the State of Texas for at least 3 years. They have to have graduated from a Texas high school, to have good standards, good character, they have to have no problems with the police, so we're not just talking about an undocumented person that just came from x country," Luis said.

Pulliam said that even if the bill is passed, illegal or undocumented immigrants would still have opportunities for financial assistance.

"People that received merit based scholarships or are in the Corps receiving scholarships or financial aide will also have out of state tuition waved so many illegal immigrants will still receive in-state tuition," said Justin Pulliam.

With the illegal immigration debate reaching a boiling point in places like Arizona, it's a topic that will likely stay front and center for the time being.

Three student senators at Texas A&M University have introduced a bill in the Student Senate to "oppose measures to give in-state tuition to persons residing in the United States illegally."

"It's just isn't right or fair for illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition, especially when there many out-of-state, legal residents paying more," said Justin Pulliam, student senator for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Pulliam is one of the three senators introducing the bill.

This past Saturday a few students and former students started a Facebook group entitled "Aggies Against In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens." It currently has over 1,100 members.

"The outpouring of support for this bill from the student body has been encouraging," said Steven Crumpley, Off-Campus Student Senator. "But it has also caused quite a stir on campus, which is good. We welcome student input and participation."

The bill currently has 34 student sponsors. At Tuesday Night's Student Government meeting it was discussed and then voted back to committee. The Student Senate will look at the bill in the fall after more research is completed this summer.

If it's eventually passed Justin Pulliam said the bill would be sent to local, state, and federal officials for their consideration.