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Virginia Senate Republicans Kill 'Dream Act' Bill in Committee Vote

"These young people are a part of our communities, and they’re not going to disappear tomorrow," said Sen. Adam Ebbin. "So why wouldn’t we give them this tool to succeed in and contribute to those communities?”

Thursday morning the Senate Committee on Education and Health voted to kill a bill to allow students with deferred action status to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. File photo by James Cullum
Thursday morning the Senate Committee on Education and Health voted to kill a bill to allow students with deferred action status to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. File photo by James Cullum

Thursday morning the Senate Committee on Education and Health voted to kill SB 249, a bill to allow students with deferred action status to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities if they meet certain requirements, including established roots in the community and a family history of paying taxes.

SB 249 was introduced by Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico) and chief co-patroned by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D – Alexandria) and Sen. Dave Marsden (D – Fairfax). It failed in a party-line, 6-7 vote.

The proposed legislation met a similar fate last year. (Read: Virginia Dream Act Dies in House.)

The votes Thursday were:

YEAS: Saslaw, Lucas, Howell, Locke, Barker, Miller-6

NAYS: Martin, Newman, Smith, McWaters, Black, Carrico, Garrett-7.

Senator Adam Ebbin said, “This bill is limited to students with DACA status. The federal government has authorized them to remain here; they’re already able to work and drive. These young people are a part of our communities, and they’re not going to disappear tomorrow. So why wouldn’t we give them this tool to succeed in and contribute to those communities?”

Senator A. Donald McEachin said, “By giving these young people an opportunity to achieve higher education, they are more likely to become even greater contributors to our society. These students are here through no fault of their own and who have known no other home. I’m disappointed that Republicans chose to withhold those opportunities. ”

Senator Janet Howell (D – Reston) said, “Our leaders in the federal government aren’t doing their jobs, and as a result, students are losing access to the kind of high-quality education Virginia can provide. If the feds won’t act, we need to act, instead. This bill should have passed.”

Last month students who graduated from Virginia high schools filed a lawsuit  in an attempt to overturn a decision by the State Council of Higher Education that makes them ineligible for in-state tuition rates. 

Also read: 
Immigrant Students Sue for In-State College Tuition Rates in Virginia

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