Rep. softens stance in immigrant tuition bill |

Rep. softens stance in immigrant tuition bill

A state representative has revamped his bill that repeals the opportunity for illegal immigrants to attend state universities in Utah for the same cost as residents.

Kamas Rep. David Ure, a Republican, successfully sponsored legislation in 2002 that made it possible for undocumented students who attend at least three years of high school and graduate in the state to receive in-state tuition costs at higher education institutions owned by the state.

But North Ogden Republican Rep. Glenn Donnelson says that’s unconstitutional. He says he is worried that one day a person from out of state — forced to pay higher tuition costs in Utah — might sue the government because the law discriminates against American citizens.

To appease the opponents of his House Bill 7, which repeals the right to in-state tuition costs for illegal immigrants, Donnelson recently amended the legislation to exclude from the repeal immigrant students who enroll in college before May 1. Those registered for school before that date can benefit from cheaper tuition "through the time that the student remains admitted as a student at that institution of higher education in a program of study leading to a degree or certificate."

"I’m still against it," said Ure, referring to HB 7 Monday during an interview at the state capitol. "Time will tell."

HB 7 has been stalled in the House Rules Committee awaiting a final vote on the floor for about two weeks. State senators haven’t yet seen the legislation.

Ure says he blames the anti-illegal immigrant group Utahns for Immigration Reform and Enforcement for persuading Donnelson to sponsor HB 7. The South Summit dairy farmer expects behind-the-scenes legislative wrangling to prevent passage of the bill during this legislative general session, which ends March 1.

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