Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Scott 'considers' backing in-state tuition for undocumented students

TALLAHASSEE — Facing a tough fight for re-election and needing stronger Hispanic support, Gov. Rick Scott says he'll "consider" offering cheaper in-state tuition to some Florida college students who are undocumented immigrants.

Scott tiptoed around the subject Wednesday in a meeting with the Legislature's Hispanic caucus, offering tepid responses on an emotionally charged issue as new Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera sat alongside.

"I'll certainly consider it," Scott said before pivoting to a favorite talking point, the cost of tuition. "I want all tuition to stop growing."

Scott, who favored an Arizona-style anti-immigration law when he ran for governor in 2010, risks alienating some conservative Republicans if he embraces in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. But Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, chairman of the Hispanic caucus, offered Scott some advice.

"The number of Hispanic voters is growing," Garcia said. "This administration needs to take that into account."

Scott angered Hispanics last year by vetoing a bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses in some cases. The bill passed the Legislature by an overwhelming margin.

Pressure is building on Scott to take a stand on in-state tuition because it is the Hispanic caucus' top priority and is supported by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

"I believe there's an injustice and an inequality for kids who are brought here based on no decision they ever made," Weatherford told the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau. "Right now there is a barrier for them furthering their education and I think that injustice should be rectified."

The proposal will face strong Senate resistance. In-state tuition is about one-third of the cost for non-residents and Senate Appropriations Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, used the example of "an American citizen living in Atlanta" having to pay higher tuition to send a child to a Florida university than for an undocumented immigrant.

"I don't think that would be fair," Negron said.

At the caucus meeting, two Hispanic legislators tried to pin down Scott on the issue, but he wouldn't take a stand.

"It's important to distinguish between children and people who are just breaking the law and coming to this country illegally," said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami.

Florida International University and Miami-Dade College offer partial tuition waivers to students who are in President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That provides temporary deportation relief to young adults brought to the United States illegally as children.

No other Florida college or university offers the waivers, but students at USF and the University of Florida are lobbying their schools to follow suit.

Seventeen states offer in-state tuition to certain undocumented students.

The issue has been floated for 11 years in the Florida Legislature, and in 2012, while House majority leader, Lopez-Cantera did not push for the bill to be heard, even as two-dozen young people and farm workers staged a sit-in at his Capitol office.

Asked Wednesday how he voted on the issue as a House member, Lopez-Cantera said: "I haven't reviewed my voting record recently."

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Gov. Rick Scott 'considers' backing in-state tuition for undocumented students 02/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 10:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kriseman and Baker cash race continues as campaigns officially reset

    Blogs

    The mayoral campaign, mostly operating in stealth mode during the two weeks of Hurricane Irma's build-up, arrival and recovery, has entered its stretch run, a compressed schedule of ten days before ballots are mailed to tens of thousands of voters in the Sunshine City.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker are emerging from Hurricane Irma mode and getting back into campaign form
  2. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

    Bucs

    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  3. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday

    Wildlife

    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  4. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  5. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem

    Bucs

    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]