- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

RICHMOND Lawmakers said yesterday they don't know how many illegal aliens attend Virginia's public colleges and universities, but none of them should get a tuition discount.
"We have been trying to find out the total number," said Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore. But "nothing requires schools to document."
Mr. Kilgore, a Republican, is supporting legislation scheduled for debate today in the House of Delegates that would require illegal aliens to pay full tuition while in a Virginia community college, college or university.
"We need to make it crystal clear that illegal aliens are not to receive the state rate," he said. "Virginia residents should not be subsidizing illegal activity."
One reason lawmakers lack good numbers is that many school applications do not include questions about legal residences. Another problem is that the federal government handles most immigration issues, not the states.
However, some higher-education officials have said the problem is not widespread and limited mostly to community colleges in Northern Virginia, where many of the commonwealth's non-residents live.
"We are talking about a relatively small category of students," said Hortense Hinton, acting vice president for academic and student services for Northern Virginia Community Colleges. "And we prefer to call them undocumented students who graduated from area high schools and who were likely brought here by their parents."
Sources say about 60 illegal immigrants attend those community colleges.
Ms. Hinton would not give an estimate, but said none the system's illegal aliens paid in-state tuition.
Officials from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia have not taken a position on the bill but have said admissions officers tracking residencies would be difficult.
"That would be an undue burden on admissions offices," said Fran Bradford, acting communications director for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. "The University of Virginia, for example, gets 15,000 applications."
The cost difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition is often substantial.
Virginia Tech charges residents $480.24 to take a three-credit class but charges out-of-state residents 1,682.49 for the same class.
The Northern Virginia Community College system charges residents $169.69 to take a three-credit class but charges out-of-state residents $607.41 for the same class.
Delegate Thelma Drake, the Norfork Republican shepherding legislation through the House, said the matter comes down to fairness.
"Military spouses who live here in Virginia cannot get the in-state tuition rate so why would you give it to an illegal immigrant?" she asked.
Delegate L. Karen Darner, Arlington County Democrat, is among only three Virginia lawmakers who so far has not supported the legislation. In fact, she sponsored legislation calling for illegal aliens to receive in-state rates.
"We are talking about people who [may have been] kids when they came here, and have gone through Virginia schools," Miss Darner said. "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."
The issue surfaced last fall when school administrators asked the Attorney General's Office for advice on dealing with illegal aliens in Virginia colleges and universities.
"Because an unmodified 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, said Mr. Kilgore at the time.


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