- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 5, 2004

RICHMOND — The House yesterday approved a bill that would ban illegal aliens from attending the state’s public colleges and universities.

In a 71-29 vote after some debate, delegates sent the bill to the Senate Education and Health Committee for consideration.

Sponsored by John S. Reid, Henrico County Republican, the bill would require public colleges and universities to turn away illegal immigrants and expel any who are mistakenly enrolled.

“It’s not appropriate for us to give away slots in Virginia state-supported colleges and institutions to young people who are in this country illegally, many of whom because their parents were here illegally and didn’t take the steps they could have taken to see that they were here legally,” Mr. Reid said yesterday. “We’ve been put in a position where we need to react.”

But Delegate Adam P. Ebbin, Alexandria Democrat, called the bill “excessive” and “short-sighted, in contrary to the direction adopted by other states,” including Texas and California.

“Our choice is clear — keep the population uneducated and unproductive, or we can give these students opportunities to be educated and contribute positively to our communities,” Mr. Ebbin said. “We’re voting on the future of these children. … Is it better to have these students become much-needed teachers or to wait in line to be offered work for day laborers?”

He added that this bill would “slam the doors of educational opportunity” on children.

Mr. Reid said children who are in the country legally are being denied spaces at colleges because of the influx of illegal immigrants in schools.

Mr. Ebbin challenged that assertion.

“By paying out-of-state tuition, these students are paying more than the cost of their education, actually 130 percent of the cost, allowing them to subsidize the Commonwealth and allow their institutions to enroll even more students,” he said.

Mr. Ebbin’s bill, which would have allowed illegal aliens to pay in-state tuition, was rejected earlier this week. Illegal immigrants now pay out-of-state tuition.

There are 61 Republicans, 37 Democrats and two independents in the House, and several Democrats voted for the bill.

Republican Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a Republican, supports the bill, but Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, opposes it. If it passes the Senate, the bill would need Mr. Warner’s signature to become law. If he vetoes the bill, the General Assembly would need a two-thirds vote to override the veto.

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