The Massachusetts House voted 100-45 late Tuesday morning to study an amendment stating that individuals who are not U.S. citizens or permanent U.S. residents shall not be eligible for in-state tuition rates at public higher education institutions.
Supporters of the underlying amendment accused Gov. Deval Patrick of acting illegally by permitting some immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates, a charge Rep. Byron Rushing refuted during debate.
House voted against immigrant tuition in the past as well
Rep. James Lyons, the sponsor of the underlying amendment, noted the House in 2006 voted 96-57 to reject a proposal to provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants. Arguing against the underlying amendment, Rep. Jeff Sanchez of Jamaica Plain said it unfairly limited opportunities for documented immigrants under an Obama administration policy and Sanchez also lamented Washington's handling of immigration reform.
"They are at a standstill," he said.
Cleon Turner challenges colleagues to support in-state tuition for immigrants
Rep. Cleon Turner, a Dennis Democrat who is not seeking re-election this year, said he hopes the Legislature will eventually revisit and pass legislation explicitly authorizing in-state tuition for certain undocumented immigrants.
"Fairness, equity, justice can only be done in this situation in my opinion if we finally approve instate tuition," Turner said. "One of my biggest disappointments as I'm looking to leaving this august body is the fact that we Democrats in this august body have not had the courage to pass this legislation."
Ashland Democrat Rep. Thomas Sannicandro sponsored the study amendment.