Sen. Gardenhire Bill Removes In-State Tuition From Definition of State Benefit So He Can Give it to Illegal Aliens

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Desperate to give illegal alien students in-state college tuition, Sen. Todd Gardenhire’s bill SB2263, removes publicly subsidized reduced college tuition from the current state law definition of “state or local public benefit.”

SB2263 would amend Tennessee’s “Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act” which defers to the federal law definition of  a “state or local public benefit.” A 2017 opinion issued by Attorney General Herb Slatery notes that this federal law was “based on Congress’s asserted interest in ‘remov[ing] the incentive for illegal immigration provided by the availability of public benefits.'”

But the federal law does permit states to grant public benefits to illegal aliens through state legislation.

The AG’s opinion was in response to a 2017 bill sponsored by Gardenhire and Rep. Mark White who is also committed to securing in-state tuition for students unlawfully present in Tennessee. White has sponsored the House companion bills to Gardenhire’s Senate bills. Their 2017 bill would have allowed the governing boards of state colleges and universities to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee but failed in the House Committee in a 6 – 6 tie vote. White “preserved” the bill by rolling it to the 2018 session instead of seeking a vote to reconsider it last year.

Slatery’s opinion says that if state legislators want “unlawful aliens” to access a state benefit like in-state tuition, the legislature must “enact legislation expressly making unlawful aliens eligible for public benefits, including in-state tuition.”

The Gardenhire/White 2018 in-state tuition bill combines elements of their former bills. Each of Gardenhire’s bills have passed the Senate Education Committee by a majority vote. Due to the failure of White’s House companion bills only their 2015 bill made it to their respective chamber floors, passing the Senate in a 21 – 12 vote but failing on the House floor by a single vote.

Notably, Speaker Beth Harwell left the House floor during the 2015 bill vote but said later that had she remained in the House chamber, she would have voted against the bill.

White and Gardenhire have deliberately avoided using language that would identify the beneficiaries of their bills as “illegal or unlawful aliens.” Gardenhire prefers to use the politically deceptive terms used by open-border activists of  “undocumented” or “children of undocumented immigrants who are brought to this country when they are very young.” White uses terms like “children in a special situation” acknowledging that using accurate statutory terms like “illegal alien,” makes it harder to get support for his bills.

“Illegal alien” is the term used in federal immigration statutes and is the term sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court to refer to individuals who have entered or been brought into the country in violation of immigration laws.

In 2016, White stated that he did not bring an in-state tuition bill that year “out of respect” for his colleagues because it was an election year.

Not so this year, however and should the Gardenhire/White bill succeed this year, it would possibly set a precedent for the next General Assembly to legislate access for illegal aliens to other public benefits.

Tennessee Star / Triton polling consistently shows that Tennessee Republican primary voters are solidly opposed to extending the in-state tuition benefit to illegal aliens. As The Star previously reported:

In the six months between the June 2017 Tennessee Star Poll and the December 2017 Tennessee Star Poll, opposition to in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students among likely Tennessee Republican primary voters has actually increased–from 84 percent to 88 percent–while support has decreased–from 11 percent to 6 percent.

Gardenhire’s bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, March 7th; White’s bill has not been put on notice in committee yet; their 2017 bills remain viable.






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13 Thoughts to “Sen. Gardenhire Bill Removes In-State Tuition From Definition of State Benefit So He Can Give it to Illegal Aliens”

  1. […] benefit.  This is the same law that in-state tuition for illegal alien proponents are trying to redefine by removing in-state tuition from the definition of a state or public […]

  2. Donna

    Okay, I want my grandchildren in another state to get in-state tuition in Tennessee. Their father was born in Tennessee, as were their grandparents, and their great-grandfather was a World War II combat veteran. Bring it on.

  3. Darryl C

    I”M TIRED of these ass_____ that think they can just GIVE AWAY to these ILLEGAL:S what we LEGALS earn>>> YES they R ILLEGALS and DO NOT deserve our MONEY!!!

  4. Wolf Woman

    So is Todd Gardenhire a good friend of La Raza Randy Boyd? Just wondered.

    Is he trying to keep up with the dems social justice candidates and is filled with Southern white guilt? Or maybe he’s just plain stupid and thinks everyone everywhere should have the same rights, go anywhere they want to live and not worry about such things as the laws of the nation they’re invading.

    Whatever his reasons, he should be at the legislature, making sure every elderly person on a fixed income who paid their taxes for decades and served their country in the armed forces is taken care of, has a decent place to live and is not forgotten or pushed to the back of the line.

    Tell me, Todd Gardenhire, why you and your cohorts in crime want special treatment for the illegal alien children (many who don’t even speak decent English) of illegal aliens who broke the law crossing over the border, send their extra money back to other countries, and routinely demand benefits from our public coffers?

  5. lb

    Follow the money–WHO and HOW is paying him to do this?

  6. Stuart I. Anderson

    Gardenhire isn’t up for re-election this year but White is. Lets see if he will be credibly challenged in the Republican Primary and if so let’s send the challenger financial support with a note explaining why with a copy to Rep. White. If enough people do that every time Gardenhire and White run and if their challenger(s) come close enough to beating them they just might take up another legislative enthusiasm. As a matter of fact we could extend that to any legislator who votes in favor of the Gardenhire/White legislation. Well funded primary challenges is a language every politician understands and makes an indelible impression.

  7. R P

    Soon, our country will be engaged in another political conflict regarding the rights of illegal aliens. Deportation of illegal aliens and the recall of elected public officials supporting said illegals would be in the best interests of all US citizens.

  8. Bob

    A true far leftist idiot.

  9. Papa

    Illegals cost every household in TN $310 annually and the Dummycrats want to give more. The first step to rid us of this plague it to take away their candy. They will stop at nothing to get a vote!

  10. The problems is it is not being placed before the public enough to get the force behind it. People have to speak to their respective representation in the state capital. If this doesn’t happen then WE do not have the voice we deserve and our tax money is utilized another way.

    Find you representative and let them know.

  11. Kevin

    Here we go….and “Republican” leadersip wonders why “their base” doesn’t turn out! First the gas tax raising, transit funding IMPROVE Act, now, giving non-citizen benefits to every Tomas, Dick and Harry. Might as well throw on “HaslamCare” for all!

    Every single “Republican” who voted for this Bill in the past, or supports it now, needs to be challenged in the primary andvoted out of office!

  12. 83ragtop50

    I suggest that Sen. Gardenhire relocate to Mexico in order to assist them in improving their country instead of attempting to coddle those here ILEGALLY using my tax dollars.

  13. ron stone

    Huge increasing amount of voters against state benefits for illegals. Try to hide with deceptive language for political cover. People from another state pay a premium for attending a school here while the TN taxpayers will be forced to pay the freight for people here illegally. It looks as if the Senator is confused as to who he was elected to represent.