MEDFORD, Ore. — Immigration advocates in the state are hailing a Senate vote that could allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition. The tuition equality bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber next month.
The issue of in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants has been contested in Oregon for about eleven years. This bill would allow those students to pay the lower tuition rates, provided they have attended school in the country for at least five years, three of which in Oregon.
They also must show intent to become a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Jazmin Roque, co-chair of the Oregon Students of Color Coalition, says it’s hard to measure how many people would be impacted as many undocumented immigrants are reluctant to come forward.
“It is harder to come up with a fiscal impact on how many people this will positively impact, or impact in general, because people are still afraid and there is a lot of fear,” said Roque.
Even with in-state tuition, experts say there are a number of challenges undocumented immigrants will face. Many jobs require U.S. citizenship regardless of education or skills and some even require that an applicant is born in the country. If the bill is signed into law, it will make Oregon one of thirteen states around the country to allow in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.