The Florida state legislature approved a measure to extend in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants over a month ago, and Monday, it got the signature of approval from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
“Making sure all Floridians have access to an affordable higher education is one of my top priorities,” Scott said in the press release. “Signing this historic legislation today will keep tuition low, and allow all students who grew up in Florida to have the same access to affordable higher education. With this legislation, higher education became more affordable and more accessible to all Floridians.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the new law guarantees the benefits of in-state tuition costs to illegal immigrants existing only if they attend a Florida public school for at least three years.
Eighteen states have some sort of in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The press release also issued a statement from Florida House Rep. Eddy Gonzalez.
“Governor Scott’s signing of House Bill 851 is a tremendous milestone for our great state,” Gonzalez said. ”Together, we have worked to guarantee that higher education is available to every qualifying Floridian. Now, every child that has grown up in Florida will be given the same opportunities to succeed as their classmates.”
Hans von Spakovsky, legal expert for The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, questioned details and fairness of this law.
“Although Florida is not the first state to pass such a law, it is disappointing to see another example of a state violating federal law in order to promote bad (and unfair) public policy,” he writes.
Spakovosky added, “Providing government benefits to illegal residents in Florida, while failing to extend similar benefits to American citizens who reside in another state, is not only a violation of federal law, but shows a visceral contempt for the rule of law. This kind of indifference to the law serves only to encourage increased illegal immigration because those entering the country illegally now know that they can receive the same benefits as legal residents in many states. It is also fundamentally unfair to students from other states who are legal U.S. citizens, and Florida’s taxpayers who are forced to subsidize education for illegal immigrants.”
Scott’s approval of this bill contrasts his former hardline stance against forms of amnesty and benefits to “lawbreakers” in the past.