Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Immigrant tuition repeal fails

Attempt to repeal immigrant tuition fails | LJWorld.com:
An attempt to repeal a law giving undocumented students a tuition break failed today.

The House voted 63-58 for an amendment by Rep. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin, which essentially gutted the repeal effort.

Holland then sought a provision to increase penalties against employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants. But that was sent back to committee on a 62-59 vote.

House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, who had wanted to repeal the tuition law, said he believed the votes today signaled the end of debate on the issue this year.
I've got a call in to Rep. Holland's office right now, but until then I'll be sketchy on what exactly happened. Good news in any event.

Update: I spoke with Rep. Holland and he explained what happened. His amendment came in two parts which got separate votes. The first part removed the body of the existing bill, one line which repealed in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrant (who have 3 years in a Kansas high school and are seeking citizenship). The second part would increase penalties for employers who knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

The first part succeeded, the second part failed.

Holland emphasizes that he is opposed to in-state tuition. His concern is that it's less of a priority than controlling demand for illegal labor. He's been working for years to get a bill passed stiffening penalties for the people who hire illegal immigrants, but the Chamber of Commerce and moderate Republicans keep killing that. They wouldn't let it out of committee. In order to have a discussion about it, he needed to attach it as an amendment to a bill, and to do that, he needed it to be germane to the bill. The way to do that, was attach the repeal of the repeal.

He wanted it made very clear that he does not support in-state tuition, he just thinks it isn't the most important thing. As it stands, knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant costs a $500 fine and maybe some time in jail. That's barely a deterrent, and as long as the jobs are in Kansas, people will come to get them. And as long as that happens, we'll be arguing about how to deal with tuition. And a lot of moderate Republicans were put in a position of not wanting to do anything about illegal immigration.