- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

RICHMOND Efforts by Attorney General Jerry Kilgore to encourage Virginia colleges and universities to begin charging out-of-state tuition rates to all illegal immigrants have drawn the ire of a Northern Virginia lawmaker.
"We should not punish children for the mistakes of their parents," said Delegate L. Karen Darner, Arlington Democrat. "Other states have recognized this, and so should we."
Miss Darner is sponsoring legislation that would allow Virginia colleges to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants, provided they graduated from a high school in Virginia and agreed to file for the appropriate paperwork within 90 days of becoming eligible to become a permanent resident.
"We are talking about people who [may have been] kids when they came here and have gone through Virginia schools. You would not say to [a native-born American] we are going to make you pay more if your parents were convicted of speeding or got a parking ticket," Miss Darner said.
Miss Darner's bill comes in response to a memo released by Mr. Kilgore, a Republican, in September that says illegal immigrants are not eligible for in-state rates.
"Because an undomiciled alien is not lawfully present in the United States, and is therefore subject to deportation, undocumented aliens, cannot as a matter of law meet Virginia's statutory requirement" for in-state tuition consideration, Mr. Kilgore wrote in the memo to state college administrators.
Mr. Kilgore says current law is sufficient in Virginia but issued the memo in response to questions from the administrators as to whom they could accept and what those students should pay.
Delegate Thelma Drake, Norfolk Republican, has drafted a bill supporting the attorney general's position and opposing the Darner legislation.
She said it doesn't make sense to give people who are in the country illegally a break on tuition when the thousands of military families stationed temporarily in Virginia are asked to pay out-of-state tuition.
Many of the people who live in her Tidewater district are military spouses and dependents who often take courses at local colleges. Because most keep their residences in other states, they are not eligible for in-state rates.
"Why should we let those who are here illegally pay the lower rate?" she asked.
The difference in rate between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be substantial. Virginia Tech charges $480.24 for three credit hours for in-state students, and $1,682.49 for out-of-state students. The Northern Virginia Community College system charges $169.69 for in-state students and $607.41 for out-of-state students.
The state subsidizes the cost of each student enrolled in Virginia colleges and universities to the tune of about $6,000 a year.
"My mother is a naturalized citizen, and it was a very special day when she became a citizen," Mrs. Drake said. Her mother is from Newfoundland, Canada.
"And the process for becoming a legal resident is available to everyone."
She added, "Rules are rules."
Timothy Murtaugh, press secretary for Mr. Kilgore, said Mrs. Drake's legislation is important because it would codify what the attorney general says is law but is not explicitly written.
"This is making sure that an illegal person does not take the place of a Virginia resident, or even a legal alien, who followed the rules and did what they were supposed to do to get to college," he said.
The original memo indicated that schools should not accept students who are illegal immigrants, but Mr. Kilgore has backed off because of concerns that such a prohibition would violate the Constitution.
Both pieces of legislation have been assigned to committees for consideration during the 46-day legislative session, which began Wednesday.


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