The DFL-controlled Minnesota House voted down two amendments to its omnibus higher education finance bill last week that would have ensured state financial aid goes only to legal residents.
One of those amendments was introduced by Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) and would have made sure that only legal residents qualify for in-state tuition rates.
“Members, citizenship is under assault,” Franson said on the House floor. “There are perks to being a citizen to the state of Minnesota, one of which is state grant dollars and in-state tuition. Taxpayers, though, should not be burdened with extra benefits that go to non-citizens.”
Franson argued that “student citizens are hurt by the preference given to those here in this country illegally.”
Her amendment was ultimately voted down, as was one introduced by Rep. Eric Lucero (R-Dayton).
Lucero’s amendment would have guaranteed that, in the event of funding cuts, illegal immigrants would lose state financial aid before the family members of wounded or deceased first responders and veterans.
The language surrounding financial aid for illegal immigrants stems from a bill introduced earlier this session by Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul). His bill, which was incorporated into the omnibus higher education finance bill, would use state dollars to make up for the federal Pell Grants that illegal immigrants don’t qualify for.
“Having invested in these young people, having bet that their education is best for our society, particularly once they’re able to normalize their citizenship status, filling this hole is a good way to protect that investment,” Mariani said when introducing his bill. “It’s about expanding access and doing it in a state that’s getting closer and closer to a really tight labor market. This is another way of maximizing all of the human potential we have in Minnesota.”
According to a press release from the Minnesota House, the Office of Higher Education estimates that his changes would cost the state $1.6 million annually.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Image “Rep Mary Franson” by Minnesota State House.