Home Virginia Politics Video: Virginia AG Mark Herring Says DREAMers Eligible for In-State Tuition

Video: Virginia AG Mark Herring Says DREAMers Eligible for In-State Tuition

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I’ll upload video shortly of Attorney General Mark Herring’s speech in Alexandria, which concluded a few minutes ago, but for now here’s a statement from Attorney General Herring’s office (see below and on the “flip”).

The room was packed with both DREAMers and those who’ve worked hard on this issue over the years – people Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada, State Senator Adam Ebbin, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, and Arlington County School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez. All of these people, plus of course the Attorney General’s office, deserve a lot of credit for making this a reality. In addition, as I discussed with Emma Violand-Sanchez and Walter Tejada, a key lesson from today’s announcement is that elections matter. Don’t think your vote counts? Well, Mark Herring defeated Republican Mark Obenshain by just a few hundred votes, and the result is now a policy change that will help thousands if not tens of thousands of Virginians. If Obenshain had been elected AG, does anyone think we would have had a joyous ceremony like the on held a bit earlier today? Hint: NO!

HERRING ADVISES THAT VIRGINIA “DREAMERS” CAN QUALIFY FOR IN-STATE TUITION

~ Attorney General determines that current law allows DACA students to establish Virginia domicile and receive in-state tuition if otherwise qualified and accepted by a school ~

RICHMOND– In a letter sent this morning to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), the presidents of Virginia’s colleges and universities, and the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, Attorney General Mark R. Herring advised that, under current Virginia law, Virginia students who are lawfully present in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program qualify for in-state tuition, provided they meet Virginia’s domicile requirements. These students, often called “DREAMers,” will still need to gain admission to an institution of higher education, maintain their DACA status, and meet the same domicile requirements as all other students, but the Attorney General has concluded that state law allows the Commonwealth to offer these young people in-state tuition rates that will help them reach their full potential and maximize their contributions to Virginia’s economy, instead of minimizing their opportunities.

“If the Commonwealth is to remain competitive in a global economy, we must embrace a strategy that maximizes our talent pool and helps all Virginians reach their full potential,” said Attorney General Herring. “These ‘DREAMers’ are already Virginians in some very important ways. In most cases they were raised here, they graduated from Virginia schools, and they have known no home but Virginia. They might be the valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school, but because they were brought here as children many years ago, an affordable education remains out of their reach. Instead of punishing and placing limits on these smart, talented, hard-working young people, Virginia should extend them an opportunity for an affordable education. It’s what the law requires, it makes economic sense for Virginia, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Nineteen states, including Texas, New Mexico, California, and Oklahoma have enacted some form of tuition equity at their public colleges and universities, speaking to its importance as an economic and competitiveness issue. For example, Maryland has seen an increase in graduation rates among Latino students since enacting tuition equity and state officials believe it is because students who may have once dropped out are now completing high school because they see realistic options for continuing education.

As of December 2013, approximately 8,100 young people in Virginia have had their applications for DACA approved. In order to qualify for in-state tuition, these Virginia students will have to satisfy several requirements. First, he or she must first be approved for DACA status, a process which sets rigorous standards to identify young people who arrived as children, had no say in their arrival process, and are now Virginians for all practical purposes. These qualifications include age of arrival, length of residency in the United States, and important indicators of civic engagement, such as no criminal record,  enrollment in school or graduation from a high school, receipt of a GED, or honorable discharge from the U.S. Military. Nationally, approximately 75% of DACA applicants have resided in the United States for more than ten years and one-third were age five or younger at arrival.

Additionally, DACA students will have to be accepted by a Virginia college or university, just like any other Virginia student. Young people who are lawfully present in the United States because of DACA are currently eligible for admission to Virginia colleges, universities, and community colleges and this interpretation of the Virginia code will not change the admission process in any way.

Finally, all Virginia students, including DACA students, must prove they meet the Commonwealth’s standard of Virginia domicile, generally established by meeting criteria including, but not limited to, continuous residence in Virginia for at least one year, intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely, paying Virginia state income taxes, receipt of a driver’s license, employment in Virginia, ownership of property, or registration of a motor vehicle in Virginia.

This interpretation of the eligibility of DACA students for in-state tuition is similar to guidance given to public colleges and universities by then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell who advised that in-state tuition may be extended to persons in the United States under “Temporary Protected Status,” granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to those who cannot safely return to their nation of origin.

“The Chamber and the Northern Virginia business community have supported the Virginia DREAM Act because all Virginia students should have the same opportunity to attend college and become productive members of the workforce,” said Jim Corcoran, president & CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. “We applaud the Attorney General and the legislators who have supported DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the Virginia DREAM Act and we wholeheartedly welcome today’s announcement.  This helps to ensure that Virginia businesses can recruit and retain top talent here in the Commonwealth.  In this ever-global economy, where businesses must compete on the world’s stage regularly, it makes sense for Virginia to cultivate and educate their own students, rather than turn them away when they reach college age.”

“One of the priorities of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (VAHCC) is developing a diverse and talented workforce to ensure the future economic vitality of Virginia,” says Michel Zajur, VAHCC President and CEO. “With Attorney General Herring’s recognition that DACA recipients are domiciled in Virginia, these talented students who gain admission to Virginia’s institutions of higher education now have the opportunity to remain in Virginia and contribute to our economy and workforce.”

“The actions by the Attorney General will allow DACA  students to pursue their dreams,” said Del. Tom Rust, who sponsored legislation in the General Assembly to help extend an affordable education to DACA students. “Most of these young people have been raised entirely in Virginia and attend Virginia schools.  They deserve the opportunity to participate as Virginians in our world class institutions of public higher education. I am pleased that the legislation I introduced during the previous two sessions brought appropriate attention to this matter.”

“I am extremely pleased that our Attorney General has determined that DACA students can be eligible for in-state tuition,” said Senator Donald McEachin, who carried a Senate bill for tuition equity. “As a Commonwealth, we want to ensure that all students who seek a higher education have a chance to attain it — partly to help them become contributing, productive members of our communities, and partly because hardworking students simply deserve that opportunity. I am pleased that the Attorney General has joined me and my colleagues in working on this issue, and I am delighted to see our shared effort come to fruition.”

“This is the right thing to do, not just from a moral perspective, but also from an economic development perspective,” said Delegate Alfonso Lopez. “We invest in these students from kindergarten through twelfth grade, but put up a barrier after graduation that only serves to drive away top talent from Virginia.  Seventeen states currently have provisions allowing for in-state tuition rates for undocumented students, including deep red States like Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, and Utah.  These States understand that to nurture and educate undocumented students from elementary to high school only to turn them away when they reach higher education is not only a waste of money, but also great talent and potential. Education quickly pays for itself. It is a benefit to society, not just to those who go to school.  The Attorney General has taken an important and positive step in the right direction on the issue of tuition equity in Virginia.  His work to help these incredible students should be commended.”

“The importance of today’s decision regarding in-state tuition qualification for those eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) extends far beyond those who are immediately impacted,” said Dr. Robert G. Templin, president of Northern Virginia Community College. “It is a signal to all New Americans who live in Virginia that our state recognizes the importance of developing their talent for the benefit of all of Virginia, and values their potential contribution to our collective future.

“This is a historic day for our hard-working talented students and for those of us who have been fighting on their behalf,” said Walter Tejada, Arlington County Board Member. “As someone who has worked at the local, state, and national level on these issues, I am proud of the action Attorney General Herring has taken and appreciate his careful consideration and analysis of the law. This was not just the right thing to do for Virginia students who are among the best and the brightest, but it sends a message that our Commonwealth will do what is needed to remain a leader in the 21st century economy.  This is a big step forward for Virginia.”

“As an organizer for the undocumented immigrant movement, I have seen incredible potential become a shadow of what it could be due to a student’s inability to pay hefty out-of state tuition, in addition to having financial responsibilities at home and often having to work several jobs,” said Dayana Torres, president of Dreamers of Virginia and a Virginia student with DACA status currently attending George Mason University. “The Attorney General’s decision that DACA students can qualify for in-state tuition at Virginia universities is one that will motivate their academic excellence past high school and which will benefit the Commonwealth. I have witnessed our community’s determination through this fight for in-state tuition and we are very enthusiastic about Mark Herring’s decision which will allow us to pursue higher education. We will continue to persevere and to make Virginia proud.”

  • From the Democratic National Committee:

  • VIRGINIA ORGANIZING COMMENDS ATTORNEY GENERAL’S DIRECTIVE TO VIRGINIA SCHOOLS ON DACA STUDENTS

    Virginia Beach, Va.-Virginia Organizing commended Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring after today’s opinion was released by the Attorney General’s office that directs universities to allow in-state tuition rates for students granted consideration under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

    “This is a big step in the right direction,” said Linda Peña, a DACA student attending Tidewater Community College and a Virginia Organizing South Hampton Roads Chapter leader. “Virginia students who were educated here are now going to have an opportunity to attend some of the best universities in the country.”

    Virginia Organizing leaders are working to support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship at the national level and have been working with colleges and universities to encourage in-state tuition offerings for undocumented students.

    “This is a huge victory for students across the state,” said Virginia Organizing Chairperson Sandra A. Cook. “Virginia has invested in DACA students for years and now we are doing the right thing to provide an opportunity to educate these students in Virginia’s fine institutions. This is our chance to retain that talent in the Commonwealth.”

    Peña explained that she currently pays the out-of-state tuition rate and receives no federal financial aid, even though she’s lived in Virginia Beach for more than 10 years.

    “I want to personally thank the Attorney General for his leadership on this issue,” said Peña. “This directive is going to mean so much for so many promising students in Virginia.”

  • KAINE STATEMENT ON EXTENSION OF IN-STATE TUITION TO VIRGINIA DREAMERS

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s announcement today that Virginia students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, or DREAMers, will now be eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia’s public community colleges and universities:

    “Attorney General Herring’s announcement that Virginia DREAMers will now qualify for in-state tuition at Virginia’s public community colleges and universities is welcome news for our Commonwealth. Access to quality, affordable higher education will provide an additional path to help them reach their full potential and ultimately help grow Virginia’s economy as productive members of the state’s workforce and their communities. These are young people in whom we have already invested through public elementary and secondary education and who deserve the opportunity to fully give back to the only country they have ever called home.

  • April 29, 2014 (Alexandria, VA) – Applauding Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision today to allow immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to qualify for in-state tuition, congressional candidate and former Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer claimed the move was “just commonsense fairness.”

    “These young people are making tangible contributions to the prosperity of Virginia,” Beyer said.  “We embrace their efforts to further their education and join us as we build a new Virginia.”

    The opinion issued by Herring and announced this morning cleared the way for Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to qualify for in-state tuition. The move will enhance access to higher education by making Virginia universities, colleges, and community colleges far more affordable for undocumented immigrant students.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services define DACA as students or graduates who came to the U.S. before turning 16 and were physically present in the country and at least 31 years of age by or before June 2012, and have never been convicted of a felony.

  • VACOLAO Celebrates Today’s

    Declaration by Attorney General Mark Herring That DACA Recipients Are Eligible for In-State Tuition

    Today’s decision will finally recognize that Virginia law does not bar students who are DACA recipients from qualifying as domiciled in our state for in-state tuition purposes.

    Alexandria, VA: At an 11:00 a.m. press conference on the campus of Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring declared that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients do have Virginia domicile, which makes them eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia’s public institutions of higher learning.

    For a number of years, VACOLAO has been working in conjunction with our partner organizations, immigrant students and other concerned Virginians to have this class of students recognized as eligible for in-state tuition. Many of these students were brought to the United States as children and often end up graduating from Virginia high schools.  Before today’s announcement, those who were accepted to study at Virginia’s public colleges and universities were treated as international students when it came to the tuition amount they had to pay.

    “VACOLAO is elated to learn that Attorney General Herring has recognized that DACA recipients are domiciled in Virginia and eligible for in-state tuition” says VACOLAO Chair, Edgar Aranda-Yanoc.  “These hard working Virginia students who have grown up and are an important part of our state’s economic future will finally be able to study at Virginia’s public universities without the barrier of out-of-state tuition.”

    Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), the only Latino member of the Virginia General Assembly, says, “Having worked tirelessly for years to secure in-state tuition for these incredible DREAMer students, I am so happy and encouraged by the Attorney General’s important and positive step in the right direction.  I thank VACOLAO for their critical support of our work on this vital issue over the years.”

    Delegate Thomas Davis Rust (R-Herndon), a longtime patron of the legislation to grant in-state tuition to DACA recipients states, “Most of these young people have been raised in Virginia and attend Virginia schools; they deserve the opportunity to participate in our world class institutions of public higher education.  I’m pleased that the legislation that I introduced brought appropriate attention to this matter and I’m delighted that the Attorney General has taken this action.”

    Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) adds, “Today’s news from the Attorney General’s office is very important and exciting. With the opportunity to receive in state tuition, DACA students will have the opportunities they have earned – to receive a college education and to fulfill their goals. I would like to commend VACOLAO for their years of work on this important issue. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with them and will continue to do so on other shared concerns in the future.”

    “As a mother, I can today breath more easily as my children will now have the ability to attend one of Virginia’s outstanding universities,” says Lenka Mendoza, founder of Dreamer Moms USA-Virginia. “It was always hard to see my children work hard in school with dreams of going to college, all the while knowing that it would be difficult because of the cost.”

    “I have had to suspend by studies for an entire year due to the high tuition costs,” says Alejandro Zuñiga, a Virginia high school graduate. “Today’s decision is a huge relief for me and the thousands of DREAMers who have grown up here and want to contribute to Virginia’s future.

    Leni Gonzalez, Founding Member of VACOLAO and President of LULAC Council 4609 stated: “We applaud the declaration of the Attorney General Herring, to give relief to these students to achieve the American Dream by pursuing a higher education degree. These talented and hardworking students will stay in our Commonwealth and will enrich it in many ways”

    Walter Tejada, Arlington County Board Member and VACOLAO Founding Chairman said “this is a historic day for our hard-working talented students and for those of us who have been fighting on their behalf. As someone who has worked with VACOLAO for years, and at the local, state, and national level on these issues, I am proud of the action Attorney General Herring has taken and appreciate his careful consideration and analysis of the law. This was not just the right thing to do for Virginia students who are among the best and the brightest, but it sends a message that our Commonwealth will do what is needed to remain a leader in the 21st century economy. This is a big step forward for Virginia.

    Senator McEachin and Delegates Lopez, Rust, and Kory have all sponsored legislation for tuition equity for several years, despite it being consistently rejected by the Virginia General Assembly.

    Under current law, to be domiciled in Virginia, a person must reside in Virginia and have the present intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely.  According to the Attorney General’s Office, “Conferral of DACA by the Department of Homeland Security has the effect of making the DACA recipient lawfully present in the United States. …Once a student has had DACA for one year, he or she is eligible to establish domicile and qualify for in-state tuition.”

  • Virginia House Republicans wildly off base as usual. I’d note that Delegate Tom Rust, a Republican, was at the announcement ceremony today by AG Herring. In fact, Herring went out of his way to praise Rust for his efforts on this issue. I guess Bill “ALEC” Howell et al. must be “deeply concerned” at Rust as well…

    RICHMOND, VA – Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Timothy D. Hugo (R-Fairfax), Majority Whip Jackson H. Miller (R-Manassas) and Deputy Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) issued the following statement Tuesday on the actions of Attorney General Mark Herring:

    “We are deeply concerned by the Attorney General’s actions today and what appears to be a continued willingness to ignore and circumvent the duly-adopted laws of the Commonwealth. For the second time since taking office just a few short months ago, Mark Herring has demonstrated blatant disregard for his oath of office, his responsibilities as Attorney General of Virginia, and most importantly, the rule of law. Attorney General Herring has once again placed his personal, political ideology ahead of the will of the people and their elected representatives.

    “The numerous and complex policy questions surrounding immigration are the subject of a vigorous and ongoing political and legislative debate at both the federal and state level. Undoubtedly, many Virginians hold sharply contrasting views on these issues and how they should be resolved.

    “What is clear and not subject to debate, however, is that these issues should be considered, discussed and eventually resolved through the legislative and democratic processes, not by the unilateral actions of one individual.

    “As a candidate, Mark Herring promised to take politics out of the Attorney General’s office. Herring said that decision making driven by ideology undermines “the credibility and integrity of the office.” His actions today and in January raise serious questions about the credibility and integrity of his leadership and should cause concern among anyone who cares for or believes in the rule of law.”

  • STATEMENT OF U.S. SEN. MARK WARNER

    ~ On in-state tuition for Virginia DREAMers~

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring’s announcement today that Virginia students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, or DREAMers, are eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia’s public community colleges and universities:

    “Today’s announcement is an important step in the direction of fairness and economic opportunity for the children of undocumented immigrants,” Sen. Warner said. “If the United States is going to win the talent competition in today’s global economy, the last thing we need to do is exclude educated young people who were brought here through no fault of their own. When I was governor, we tried to ensure that DREAMers would have access to in-state tuition at Virginia’s public colleges and universities and I’m thrilled that Attorney General Herring has determined that under law, these Virginians will have access to educational opportunity.”

  • Governor Mcauliffe Statement on In-State Tuition for Virginia DREAMers

    Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement today following Attorney General Mark Herring’s announcement that Virginia law makes students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, otherwise known as DREAMers, eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia public community colleges and universities:

    “As I said throughout my campaign, I believe that Virginia children who were brought here at a young age, grew up here, and have stayed out of trouble, should absolutely have access to the same educational opportunities as everyone else. To grow a 21st Century economy, Virginia needs to be open and welcoming to all who call our Commonwealth home, and I am encouraged to see progress being made in this area during my administration.

    “I fully support the Attorney General’s opinion that those students who have been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals qualify for in-state tuition, and I am committed to ensuring that this becomes a reality during my administration. I will work diligently with SCHEV, VCCS, and college and university presidents to further review this policy and make sure that all Virginia students have access to our quality education system.”

  • STATE SENATOR ADAM EBBIN ON TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT FROM VA ATTORNEY GENERAL MARK HERRING

    Herring issues opinion that students with deferred action status qualify for in-state tuition.

    Alexandria, Va. – Senator Adam Ebbin – a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Virginia’s 8th Congressional District – today stood with Attorney General Mark Herring (D) in support of students with different action status qualifying for in-state tuition.

    “I stand with Attorney General Herring in his recognition that DACA students are Virginia residents who qualify for in-state tuition. Today, Virginia finally has an Attorney General who is fighting for those students who have so much to contribute to our community and economy,” stated Ebbin. “For too long, these students have had to hide in the shadows for fear of deportation and discrimination. These students are children of Virginia and it is our civic responsibility to empower them to succeed in the future.   Not only does this position make economic sense, but more importantly, it is the morally right thing to do.”

    Ebbin has introduced legislation to ensure that students with Differed Action for Childhood Arrival Status would qualify for in-state tuition for Virginia colleges and universities. In 2004 Ebbin also introduced a Virginia Dream Act.

    Michel Zajur, president of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, had previously said that “The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce applauds Senator Ebbin’s persistent efforts over the past decade to help the immigrant community achieve their fair share of the American Dream. Senator Ebbin understands that this is the right thing to do, not only because these children deserve fair treatment, but for Virginia’s economic success.”

  • Check out this tirade from Del. Greg Habeeb (R)’s Twitter feed. Is the Virginia GOP the “all ignorance all the time” party or what?

    “For those trying to compare Herring to Cuccinelli, tell me when Cuccinelli ignored the Rule of Law. Losing a lawsuit is different.”

    “It’s sad to see VA go the way of DC where the Executive branch doesn’t care about the Rule of Law and the ends justify the means”

    “If this already is the law, why did Dems in the General Assembly try so hard to change the law over the last few years?”

    “I look forward to one of my Dem General Assembly colleagues explaining how the AG’s opinion follows the law. @ssurovell @MarkKeam”

    “The AG’s press release contains lots of language re how he wants the law to be but contains zero legal analysis.”

    “I’m a firm believer in the Rule of Law. It doesn’t matter what you think the law ought to be. You can’t make it up to fit your ideology.”

    “Lots of Democrats howled about Cuccinelli’s “activism.” Their silence regarding our new radical AG is very conspicuous.”

    “@LVozzella: AG Herring says children of illegal immigrants can qualify for in-state tuition” / our esteemed AG once again making up the law”

  • Lieutenant Governor Northam’s Statement on In-State Tuition for Virginia DREAMers

    Richmond, VA – Following the Attorney General’s announcement that students who have been approved by the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will now qualify for in-state tuition, the Lieutenant Governor released the following statement:

    “I applaud the Attorney General for the decision made today to extend in-state tuition to those Virginia students who have been approved under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. His determination that students with DACA status can now qualify for in-state tuition is great news for the Commonwealth. This policy will drastically help these young adults access affordable higher education at Virginia’s community colleges, and public colleges and universities. Ultimately, these young adults will be better able to fulfill their potential, contribute to the economy and their local communities in new ways.”