With conservatives in firm control, the Kansas House today voted to repeal a law that gives in-state tuition to the children of undocumented immigrants.
The House voted 69-49 to repeal the law, which was first passed by the Kansas Legislature in 2004. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to repeal the law in the past, but the climate changed in the wake of a conservative sweep in last fall’s election.
“We had an election in November and we have a group of folks who see things differently,” said state Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican and one of the sponsors of the repeal bill.
“I think you can attribute the result to a different makeup of the Legislature,” Kinzer said.
Kinzer noted that the arguments heard this morning were starkly different than in the past.
Supporters of the repeal said the current law gave an advantage to the children of undocumented immigrants over students who already in Kansas legally. Opponents said the law singles out children who had no choice in following their parents to the United States.
The law grants in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants who graduate from a Kansas high school and pledge that they intend to become citizens. Last fall 413 students received the benefit while studying at state universities or junior colleges.
The law passed the Legislature in 2004 when Democrat Kathleen Sebelius was governor. Previous attempts to repeal the law never succeeded.
Things have changed. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, supports repealing the law. Last November’s election brought more conservatives into the Republican-led Legislature.
Repealing the law could mean $1 million positive financial impact to the state, supporters said. But critics charged that amount was inflated because it falslely assumed every student now paying-instate tuition would stay in school and pay out-of-state tuition.
Repealing the law could chase those students away from college, meaning the state could potentially lose about $900,000 in tuition.