For the love of God, would an elected official with a bit of gumption step up and press the Missouri attorney general for a legal reading?
Hundreds of Missouri immigrant college students are caught in a bind, learning only weeks before fall semester begins that their tuition is being doubled or, in some cases, tripled. The reason is because a handful of Republican legislators decided to tuck a language change into the top of the higher-education appropriations bill solely to target the so-called Dreamer students. These are children who were brought by their parents to the U.S. without legal status.
Contrary to moronic interpretations that have long hounded these students, they didn’t choose to land in this situation. Most came to the U.S. years ago, often as elementary-age kids or younger. Toddlers don’t “sneak” across the border. Besides, the students in question have gained a lawful presence from the Department of Homeland Security through an executive order.
They are graduates of Missouri high schools. They aren’t asking for handouts. They are academically qualified and want to pay their in-state tuition and fees. But most won’t be able to afford college if the fees are doubled or tripled to the rate of international fees.
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Gov. Jay Nixon, the Department of Higher Education and many educators all believe that the little trick the legislators pulled isn’t legally binding. But Nixon hasn’t followed up with any action. The wording change is in the preamble, not the bill itself. And the legislators didn’t go through the normal legislative process.
No one wants to risk the backlash of petty politicians who might cut funding to other higher-education programs in retaliation for being challenged.
Instead, universities are touting that they are finding private funding to help the students already enrolled. That’s laudable, but that is a stopgap — a remedy for this semester and a save that may not come through for all of the affected students.
Kansas colleges and universities are also lining up to help. Kansas out-of-state fees may be cheaper than Missouri international rates. But there are transportation and other issues to work out, making such transfers difficult for many.
This insanity could be stopped in its tracks. Get a legal reading. If the legislators acted unlawfully, then the students should be able to attend the Missouri institutions where they are already accepted and where they are ready to pay their in-state tuition.
Classes begin soon. These students deserve their seats.