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Missouri House endorses barring illegal immigrants from college

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri House has given preliminary approval to a bill designed to bar illegal immigrants from attending public colleges and universities.

The bill would require state-run institutions of higher learning to verify to lawmakers that they have not knowingly enrolled illegal immigrants as students, as a condition for receiving state funding.

The sponsor, State Representative Jerry Nolte (R, Gladstone), acknowledges that having illegals enrolled in college is not a major problem in Missouri yet.

"But we have the potential for that expanding quite a little bit, so the idea is to act proactively and prevent a problem before it becomes serious," Nolte said.

House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota (D, Independence) spoke out against the bill.

"But the truth of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, (illegal immigrants) do not come to the state of Missouri so they can go to college, they come to work," LeVota said.

LeVota told fellow House members that the state should instead ask the federal government to do its job in enforcing immigration law.

The bill received first-round approval on a predominantly party line vote, with Republicans generally voting "yes" and Democrats voting "no."

Another vote by the full House is required before the legislation can go to the Missouri Senate.

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