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. For some, Memorial Day comes around more than just once a year

    Military

    ST. PETERSBURG — It is shortly before nine on a Friday morning, and the heat is already approaching unbearable levels at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

    Iles carefully digs up the St. Augustine grass so that it will continue to grow when it is placed back on the gravesite. He tries not to disturb the root base.
  2. State budget uncertainty has school districts 'very concerned'

    K12

    While waiting for Gov. Rick Scott to approve or veto the Legislature's education budget, the people in charge of school district checkbooks are trying hard to find a bottom line.

    It has not been easy.

    The unsettled nature of Florida’s education budget has left school districts with questions about how they will make ends meet next year. [iStockphoto.com]
  3. Ernest Hooper: Removing Confederate symbols doesn't eliminate persistent mindset

    Human Interest

    The debate has begun about removing a Confederate statue from outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse, and its removal is long overdue.

    Robert E. Lee Elementary, 305 E. Columbus Drive in Tampa, originally opened its doors in the early 1910s as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School. [Times file]
  4. What you need to know for Monday, May 29

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    In the weeks before Memorial Day, cemetery caretaker Gary Iles and the staff at Bay Pines National Cemetery are busy preparing the sprawling property for the annual ceremony honoring the fallen. Iles, an Army veteran who started out as a volunteer at Bay Pines, says working at the cemetery is a way for him to continue serving those who died for their country. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival wraps up with Above and Beyond, more at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    The first numbers trickled in on Sunday, and they didn't look great.

    Louis the Child performed at the Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium on May 28, 2017.