Senate Democrats are proposing legislation that would grant in-state tuition at Virginia colleges to young people with Deferred Action status, allowing them full access to the benefits of a college education for the first time in history. The Virginia Dream Act sets out standards for students to qualify:
— attended and graduated from a Virginia high school (or received a Virginia GED)
— resided in Virginia for the three years preceding his or her enrollment in college (or one year if serving in the military)
— been granted deferred action status from the Department of Homeland Security
— either filed or lived with a parent who filed Virginia income tax returns for the last three years
The Virginia Dream Act is based on bipartisan legislation in Texas, introduced by a Democratic legislator and signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R).
State Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, “Many of these people were brought here by their parents, through no fault or choice of their own, when they were very young. They want to stay in Virginia and contribute to the communities where they’ve lived for almost all their lives. Federal “deferred action” status has given them a legal way to stay here. Now, we need to give them a chance to be valuable, contributing members of our society. Education is by far the best way to do that.”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) said, “In-state tuition for students with Deferred Action status will help young Virginians realize their full potential and become intergal parts of the Virginia economy. Education can and should be their ticket to the American Dream.”
State Sen. Toddy Puller (D-Arlington) pointed out that the Virginia Dream Act isn’t just about fairness. The law will also strengthen Virginia’s economy.
“The cutting-edge companies that thrive in the global economy are always looking for educated workers,” said Puller. “The best thing we can do for the Commonwealth is to have an educated workforce — that’s why local Chambers of Commerce have supported this strongly in the past. The Virginia Dream Act means more and better-educated workers, working better, higher-paying jobs.”
“The Dream Act will grow our economy and should unite both parties,” Puller added. “This is the right thing to do. There’s no reason in the world not to make this law.”