GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd says he opposes giving illegal immigrants access to the in-state four-year college tuition rate, but is still listed as serving on Obama’s College Promise Campaign board which is working to make state community college scholarships like the Tennessee Promise, available to illegal immigrant students.
Almost one year to the date after Obama talked amnesty for illegal immigrants in a Nashville speech, he returned to Tennessee, floated the idea of a national free community college program and shortly thereafter, announced appointments to his newly created College Promise Advisory Board.
Randy Boyd who was the ECD Commissioner at the time, was appointed to the board Obama launched in 2015.
Obama’s College Promise board is led by the president of the leftist Joyce Foundation and honorary chair Dr. Jill Biden, wife of former Vice-President Joe Biden. It’s website does not hide the College Promise campaign’s intention to include illegal immigrants in the group of students who can access the free education dollars:
Who will your Promise program serve? Promise programs use specific eligibility and persistence criteria to determine which students the program will serve and benchmarks for continuation in the program. Some common criteria include: … Citizenship: These programs take into account a student’s citizenship status. Some programs are explicitly limited to U.S. citizens, while others include residents of the locality or state, including undocumented students.
A briefing book provided by the College Promise board, Making Public Colleges Tuition Free, reinforces the inclusion of illegal immigrants in state college promise programs like Tennessee Promise, referencing the “alternative application for undocumented students” used by two states for their tuition scholarship programs.
The 2014 statute establishing the Tennessee Promise scholarship already includes flexibility in qualifying for the money based on “extenuating circumstances” and should this year’s in-state tuition bill be passed, could easily result in including the alternative application for illegal immigrants that the College Promise board is promoting.
Obama said he was “inspired” by The Tennessee Promise scholarship program, an initiative Randy Boyd takes full credit for on his campaign website and which provided the foundation of Haslam’s “Drive to 55” higher education umbrella.
The programs that make up the “Drive to 55” initiative are intended to “increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or credential to 55 percent by the year 2025.” Last year, the lobbyist for the University of Tennessee told the Education Subcommittee that as a result of the Tennessee Promise program, UT Martin experienced a decline in freshman enrollment. Legislators desperate to fill the empty seats, used the “Drive to 55” education agenda to justify passing legislation giving the lower in-state tuition rate to illegal immigrant students.
Sen. Gardenhire who has sponsored all of the Senate in-state tuition bills, claims that the goal of “Drive to 55” cannot be reached without enabling the “estimated 13,000 undocumented” students in Tennessee to have the benefit of in-state tuition rates.
After Gardenhire’s 2015 in-state tuition bill failed to pass in the House, it seems Boyd, who was then the ECD Commissioner was working behind the scenes to help bring the bill back during the 2017 legislative session.
A 2016 email exchange provided to The Tennessee Star between Boyd and several of his staff at ECD suggests that Boyd was trying to construct a positive fiscal impact argument to support awarding the state benefit of in-state tuition to students he called “undocumented,” a politically deceptive description typically employed by open border and illegal immigrant advocates.
During discussion of the 2015 in-state tuition bill on the House floor, Rep. John Ragan referenced the bill’s fiscal note that only 28 students would potentially benefit from the bill.
Per Boyd’s request for data to revive the bill, ECD’s Director of the Center for Economic Research in Tennessee (CERT) indicated that she would probe the Tennessee college systems estimate that only 28 “undocumented” students per year would take advantage of an in-state tuition rate if the bill was passed. She also suggested applying additional research and assumptions that could drive the estimated numbers higher.
The email exchange between Randy Boyd, Sally Haar, Director of CERT, Sammie Arnold ECD’s chief legislative lobbyist and Ted Townsend ECD’s chief operating officer, which The Star has obtained and believes to be authentic, can be read below:Email-Boyd
State Senators Richard Briggs and Becky Duncan-Massey and Reps. Kent Calfee and Eddie Smith are working to get Boyd elected as governor; they all voted for the 2015 in-state tuition bill that passed the Senate but failed in the House by a single vote. Boyd and members of his family have donated to these legislators campaign accounts.
Boyd remains a named member of an organization that pushes state and local policymakers to support giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrant students and he has used his philanthropy to help expand an entrepreneurship program whose services are available to illegal aliens.
Two of Boyd’s rivals for the Republican nomination for governor–Williamson County businessman Bill Lee and Rep. Diane Black (R-TN-06)— said on Wednesday they were opposed to and would veto the current in-state tuition for illegal immigrants bill sponsored by State Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) that passed the Tennessee House of Representatives Education Subcommittee on a voice vote without discussion on Tuesday.
Boyd has offered no statement on that bill.