GOP lawmaker dreams a little 'Dream Act' for Pa.
February 15, 2013By Mary Wilson
A Pennsylvania lawmaker is hoping the state will join the roughly dozen other states that have extended in-state tuition to undocumented students.
Sen. Lloyd Smucker says children brought to the U.S. illegally shouldn't see their educational and employment opportunities hampered.
He's making the case the commonwealth should pass its own Dream Act.
His measure would allow undocumented students who get into any of the 14 state-owned or four state-related universities not to pay out-of-state or international tuition rates, which in the commonwealth are sometimes more than double the in-state rates.
Smucker, R-Lancaster, says the commonwealth has already invested in these students because they've attended Pennsylvania high schools.
"They're generally great students. They have the capacity and the ability to contribute to our society in a big way and I think that allowing this opportunity, removing that barrier will be both -- it's the right thing to do for them, I believe, also will be an economic investment," Smucker said.
Smucker said he was motivated to act when Maryland joined those states allowing undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition -- a measure modeled on federal Dream Act legislation.
"There it went to a public referendum and it was passed by a wide margin," he said. "Fifty-nine percent of the voters in Maryland supported the Dream Act there and so I thought that it was - really it sort of clicked with me at that point that this was probably something we ought to be considering here."
Opponents of the legislation say the state shouldn't be assisting people living in the country illegally.
The bill has not been formally introduced, but an aide to Smucker says it has at least 10 co-sponsors.
But the measure faces an uncertain fate in the Legislature, where the chair of the House State Government Committee has already condemned it, while the Senate Majority Leader is one of those co-sponsors.