Americans have a keen sense of fairness. We’re quick to speak up on behalf of people who are being treated unfairly. Such a situation now exists in the case of Florida resident college-age children of undocumented aliens who are required to pay out-of-state tuition at public universities because of their parents’ immigration status. Many of these students were born in the U.S. or were brought here as very young children, becoming fully integrated into the American way of life. For all intents and purposes they are Americans, yet in many states, including Florida, they face a barrier in gaining access to the one thing that has the greatest potential to maximize their ability to contribute to our society: higher education.
As the president of Florida Atlantic University, I am proud to join FAU Student Government in supporting the Florida Student Association’s call to end this practice. The FSA, which represents all of the student government organizations in the State University System, is calling for the extension of in-state tuition to the following groups:
- Honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. armed forces, including its reserve components and the National Guard
- Children who are U.S. citizens and reside in Florida, but were born to undocumented immigrant parents
- Graduates of Florida high schools who reside in the state but are undocumented immigrants
These proposals align with FAU’s advocacy of in-state tuition for all military veterans, and they reflect the appreciation for diversity that has long been part of FAU’s institutional DNA. We take great pride in the fact that FAU has the most racially, ethnically and culturally diverse student body in Florida’s State University System, ranking 27th among all universities nationwide. Living and learning in such a diverse community prepares our graduates well to be leaders in the 21st century economy.
Let’s continue to build our rich diversity by leveling the playing field for Florida resident children of undocumented immigrants who have the desire and the ability to earn university degrees. It’s the fair thing to do, and it will pay dividends in the future by expanding Florida’s college-educated workforce.