Bill would reduce college costs for undocumented youth

Posted: January 24, 2013

State Senator Lloyd Smucker (R-West Lampeter), has introduced a bill that would allow undocumented immigrant youth who complete high school in Pennsylvania to be eligible for in-state tuition rates at state colleges.

"This has the potential to expand the pool of skilled workers and prospective job creators," said Smucker, who modeled his legislation on Maryland's Dream Act, which offers subsidized tuition to undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as young children. "We limit our capacity to grow," Smucker added, "if we deny opportunities to ... industrious young people because of action their parents took years ago."

While the U.S. Congress has repeatedly rejected a federal Dream Act, a dozen states have adopted some version of the proposal in recent years, Smucker said.

While applauding Smucker, Juntos, an advocacy group for Latinos in Philadelphia, urged him to go further by including people who receive GEDs.

Taking that step, said Juntos youth organizer Miguel Andrade, would allow students who dropped out because they lost hope of obtaining access to higher degrees "to re-engage" with the educational system.

   --Michael Matza

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