Legislators Who Give In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrant Students Are Voting to Violate State Law

Tennessee Star

Last week when the state’s Senate Education Committee voted to give in-state college tuition to illegal immigrant students, the seven committee members that passed SB1014 also voted to violate a 2012 Tennessee law.

By voting to pass SB1014, Senators Gresham, Tate, and Tracy voted against the “Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act” (EVEA), the law they had each voted to pass in 2012.

Bill sponsor Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Senators Crowe, Dickerson, and Haile also voted yes.

Senators Hensley and Kelsey voted no.

Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) was a named co-sponsor of the EVEA.

The 2012 EVEA, which the  TN Board of Regents’ General Counsel confirmed last week, classifies in-state tuition is a state benefit. The EVEA requires that:

“…every state governmental entity and local health department shall verify that each applicant eighteen (18) years of age or older, who applies for a federal, state or local public benefit from the entity or local health department, is a United States citizen or lawfully present in the United States in the manner provided in this chapter.”

Only U.S. citizens and “qualified aliens” are considered eligible to apply for benefits under this Tennessee law which defines “qualified alien” by referencing federal law.  Neither illegal immigrants, nor Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who cross the border illegally without an adult, are likely to fit the federal law definition of “qualified alien.”

Neither would recipients of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, fit within the definition of “qualified alien” even though they are considered “lawfully present” per the 2012 policy issued through a memorandum by the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

Before the Senate Education Committee passed Sen. Gardenhire’s  SB1014, he noted that his new bill version deleted any prior references to DACA requirements that were in his 2015 bill which was intended to benefit DACA grantees. Despite a temporary two-year deportation deferral, DACA grantees’ immigration status remains illegal since DACA criteria requires the person to have entered the U.S. illegally before age 16.

Regardless of the language change in the Gardenhire/White bill, last week in committee Rep. Mark White (R-Chattanooga) acknowledged that he had “another bill,” referring to HB863, that addressed in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students.

White’s bill, HB863 is scheduled to be heard by a House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 28th.  Members of this subcommittee who voted to pass the EVEA in 2012 include White, Republican Rep. Harry Brooks and Democrat Rep. Johnnie Turner.


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9 Thoughts to “Legislators Who Give In-State Tuition to Illegal Immigrant Students Are Voting to Violate State Law”

  1. […] Reeves was endorsed on Wednesday by the man he seeks to replace, State Sen. Tracy, who voted in favor of increasing the gas tax and in favor of providing in-state tuition to illegal aliens. […]

  2. […] aliens living in the state to pay the in-state tuition rate. Similarly, Tennessee’s “Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act” classifies in-state tuition as a state benefit and incorporates federal law that says only U.S. […]

  3. […] creates an exception to Tennessee’s “Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act” law which classifies in-state tuition as a state benefit that would otherwise be unavailable to anyone […]

  4. […] this exact type of state legislation, signed by President Bill Clinton. It also violates a TN state statute. Such policies encourage illegal immigration, are unfair to American citizens from other states, […]

  5. JWoods

    Let’s think about this. Let’s add into the Education Bill giving these Illegal Immigrants state Benefit education that they must swear allegiance to the US Constitution. Should their actions ever move against the US Constitution in support of Sharia Law, they will be immediately be arrested, fined the cost of the tax benefit funds they received during their education and returned to their country of origin ?

  6. […] in Tennessee, eligible for in-state college tuition and at the same time,  they not only voted to violate the Tennessee  “Eligibility Verification for Entitlements Act,” they also turned their back […]

  7. Kalee

    Sen Todd Gardenhire’s SB 0635 & SB 1014 and Rep Mark White’s bills, HB 0660 & HB 0863 would turn key decisions over to un-elected Board of Regents and University/College administrators instead of remaining under the authority delegated to our elected legislature. Other states that have passed this same type of legislation are now being sued. This case history should add to the fiscal note of these bills. By the way, Sen Jim Tracy added an amendment to include ALL surrounding states within 100 miles of the TN border to Sen Gardenhire’s bill and it was passed in the Sen Education Committee last week.

    These bills run contrary to President Trump’s priority to solve the nation’s overwhelming illegal immigration problem and will create an automatic sanctuary policy for “undocumented” individuals in TN’s post secondary schools. In addition, these bills will undermine the spirit and tone of Tennessee’s 10th Amendment lawsuit currently underway with the federal government regarding the refugee resettlement program, as TN would be seen as running contrary to federal policy on immigration. We can’t have it both ways.

    Most importantly, these bills are against very specifically stated Federal immigration law for the very reason that they will encourage illegal immigration, making TN a magnet.
    § 1623 of IIRIRA states:
    “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizens or national is such a resident.”

    Read more here: http://www.heritage.org/immigration/report/providing-state-tuition-illegal-aliens-violation-federal-law

  8. Jim Forsythe

    HOW STUPID! Illegals should be immediately shipped back to their country of origin – now. They are not entitled to our money to continue to break our laws. This makes no sense whatsoever.

  9. Willie Smith

    We MUST impeach the people who voted to violate State Law in this fashion. This CANNOT be allowed!