Poll Shows Majority of RI Lawmakers Opposed to Immigrant In-State Tuition Policy, Senator DiPalma Tells New England Post Why Opposition is so Strong

Posted by erik devaney

Courtesy of foxbaltimore.com

When the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education approved in-state tuition rates for undocumented students back in September, it did so without the approval of state lawmakers. Of the 13 states that now provide in-state tuition rates to undocumented students, Rhode Island is the only state to have created such a policy without legislative input.

Now, a recent poll from The Providence Journal shows that if Rhode Island lawmakers did have a say, the controversial policy would likely be off the books.

In Rhode Island’s House of Representatives, 26 members said they were opposed to in-state tuition for undocumented students, according to the poll. Seven supported the policy, eight were undecided and the rest of the 75 members gave no response.

In Rhode Island’s Senate, 19 members said they were opposed to the policy, while four said they supported it. Three members said they were undecided and the remaining 12 gave no response.

One of the Rhode Island State Senators who publicly opposes in-state tuition for undocumented students is Louis P. DiPalma. DiPalma told New England Post that he is “extremely disappointed, dismayed and troubled” by the recent decision to offer in-state tuition to non-citizens.

Like many Rhode Island lawmakers, DiPalma feels that the Board of Governors for Higher Education overstepped its bounds when it approved the tuition policy without legislative input. “This decision is problematic,” he said. “While the Board believes it is within their purview to offer this privilege, as they’re responsible for setting tuition, in my opinion I believe what they’ve done is expand policy, not work within the existing policy.”

While DiPalma acknowledges that the path to citizenship may be “difficult and lengthy,” he also believes that earning citizenship is the “right first step” toward being allowed in-state tuition rates.

“The recent decision has it backwards,” DiPalma told New England Post. “While the citizen challenges have not yet been addressed at the national level, this doesn’t give the Board the wherewithal to address it as they deem appropriate.”

Like many Rhode Island citizens, DiPalma is the descendant of immigrants. “My paternal grandfather came to the US in 1913,” he said, “and through the citizenship process at the time, he became a US citizen.” This process included “attending 72 night classes per year, for a couple of years.”

“While I never knew him,” DiPalma continued, “my father, aunts, uncles, and maternal grandmother had continually communicated the effort expended and the pride my grandfather exuded in accomplishing this feat as extremely memorable.”

The bottom line for DiPalma when it comes to the issue of in-state tuition for immigrants is fairness; “fairness to all those who have already become citizens and those who are currently playing by the rules to become citizens.”

And to ensure that this notion of fairness is upheld in Rhode Island, DiPalma and the many other state lawmakers sharing his point-of-view will try to get the current in-state tuition policy overturned.

“When we return to Session, I’ll be working with my colleagues to see what might be possible to correct this ill-conceived decision by the Board,” DiPalma told New England Post. “In the interim, I ask that the Board seriously reconsider their action and rescind this decision at an upcoming board meeting. This is the fair and right thing to do.”

Short URL: http://www.newenglandpost.com/?p=5786

Posted by erik devaney on Oct 14 2011. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Log in | Maintained by BlackDoor Creative