An Open Letter to State Senator Steve Oelrich
Dear Senator Oelrich, We were disappointed by your failure to support SB 1018 "Equal Access to Higher Education" and by your decision to lead the opposition to it in the Committee on Higher Education. That bill did no more than rectify an injustice in the current law by providing that any native-born American citizen who qualified in every other respect for in-state tuition would not be penalized because of the immigration status of a parent. We agree that it is not right to require any graduate of a Florida high school, who was a student there for two consecutive years, to register as an international student and pay triple the amount of in-state tuition. It is simply wrong to deprive American citizens of an advantage all their classmates enjoy. As an editorial in Sunday's Gainesville Sun noted, many jurists and legal experts believe that the present law is unconstitutional and will soon be overturned in the courts. But we hope the Florida Legislature will go further and truly provide "Equal Access to Higher Education" with in-state tuition available for every Florida high school graduate who would otherwise qualify under existing legislation. We ask you to support a bill that will allow every child in Florida, including the children of undocumented immigrants, to aspire to be all that they can be and enjoy a level playing field with their classmates who attend our colleges and universities. Thirteen other state legislatures have already passed laws allowing for this. We, the undersigned, urge you to add Florida to that number during this session!