St. Louis Public Radio News
7:10 pm
Wed February 24, 2010

Undocumented immigrants in Mo. could attend college under bill

Jefferson City, Mo. – Legislation in the Missouri Senate would allow some undocumented immigrants who've graduated from Missouri high schools to receive in-state tuition from state-run universities.

The bill would require a student to provide an affidavit stating that he or she will apply to become a permanent U.S. resident.

The sponsor, Senator Jolie Justus (D, Kansas City), asked for support before a State Senate committee.

"I've had high school counselors who have come up to me and said, 'We're having a really hard time engaging some of the students, preventing dropout, preventing gang activity, keeping kids engaged, when they know that as soon as they graduate, they don't have documentation to work, and they don't have the financial ability to be able to go to college," Jolie told the Missouri Senate Committee on Education.

No one spoke against the bill during the hearing.

Just two years ago lawmakers passed numerous restrictions against illegal immigration. However, they backed away from a proposal that would have barred illegal immigrants from attending college.

The chairman of the Senate Education Committee, David Pearce (R, Warrensburg), says he'll schedule a vote on the bill if Senator Justus can garner enough support from among committee members.