The prospects for a Florida version of the federal DREAM Act died quietly in the state legislature last week as a Senate panel killed SB 106 with a 4-3 vote along party lines.
The bill would have granted in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrant students who had attended a Florida high school for three years and graduated. Republicans opposed the measure on the grounds it would encourage illegal immigration and add to the financial problems of the state's colleges.
One of the bill's supporters, Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, argued that it made fiscal sense for the state to extend this benefit to young residents with promising futures. A 2010 study supports Siplin's view that the DREAM Act would boost the U.S. economy.
"All I'm trying to do is get back the investment that we have already made in these students so they can become taxpayers," Siplin said.
Currently 13 states have some version of the federal DREAM Act and extend in-state tuition rates to undocumented residents: Wisconsin, Maryland, Nebraska, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois, Washington, New York, Utah, California, Texas, Connecticut.
Most of the Republican presidential candidates have opposed any form of assistance for undocumented college students. Newt Gingrich is an exception, as were former candidates Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry.