One hundred and fifty undocumented high school students and educators, including 30 from Memphis, headed to the Capitol in Nashville on Wednesday, March 22, to meet with legislators, share their stories and goals, and ask for legislative support for equal tuition opportunities.
As a result, the Senate Education Committee voted 7-2 in favor of the bill sponsored by Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Representative Mark White (R-Memphis), officially known as SB1014/HB0863
, which would allow Tennessee graduates to receive in-state tuition regardless of immigration status.
The bill will now advance to the Senate Finance Committee.
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) has led the campaign for Tuition Opportunity since 2012, building a team of partners from the business and education community, to change the fact that undocumented students end up paying almost three times as much as their documented classmates for college tuition at public universities.
"While we still have a long way to go before Tuition Opportunity is a reality for undocumented students, yesterday's vote was a big step forward," said Cesar Bautista, the youth organizer for TIRRC.