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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Republican Platform Would Strip Federal Funds From Tuition Equity

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 2:35 PM

The big news this week, of course, is that the Republican party platform reiterates its position from the last two presidential campaigns that abortion should be completely illegal, with no written-in exceptions for rape.

But it's not just lady-bits in the cross-hairs; the draft party platform leaked to reporters also takes a strong stance against immigrants. As the New York Times reported today, the platform stands on "denying federal financing to universities that allow illegal immigrant students to enroll at lower in-state tuition rates."

That "in-state tuition rates for immigrants" is exactly the issue championed in Oregon during the last legislative session, though it was not adopted by the Oregon university system. The bill passed the state senate but then died in the House. Currently, 12 states have some kind of tuition-equity policy.

The debate over the issue then was fierce and it's interesting that the topic has been picked up by the national party. In Oregon, lawmaker's offices were overwhelmed with calls from both sides on the topic that provokes surprising passion.

On the one side are people like the Oregonians for Immigration reform, who argued at the time: "Taxpayers could be paying millions of dollars to subsidize the college education of illegal alien college student." On the other are people like Republican legislator Frank Morse, who came around from being an opponent of tuition equity to being a supporter. "If we create a situation where we take a class of young people and deny them opportunity, are we improving Oregon?" Morse asked his fellow politicians during the 2011 debate. "No, we are not."

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