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California Legislature

In challenge to Trump, California lawmaker seeks expansion of in-state tuition for immigrants in the U.S. illegally

Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) rests on his chair during a break in a Senate Rules Committee meeting in Sacramento. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)
Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) rests on his chair during a break in a Senate Rules Committee meeting in Sacramento. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

In another challenge to the immigration crackdown proposed by President-elect Donald Trump, a California lawmaker proposed Thursday to greatly expand the number of students in the country illegally who can get discounted, in-state resident tuition at state universities.

“Despite national rhetoric, California remains resolute in integrating the most vulnerable into our society,” said state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), the bill’s author.

A 2001 law provides in-state tuition if immigrants in the country illegally attend three years of school and get a high school diploma. Otherwise, they face more costly tuition charged to students from out of the country.

With a recent spike in unaccompanied minors coming into the country, the new bill would help the young person who arrives at age 16 and can only attend high school for two years, including those who do not graduate.

Lara’s SB 68  would allow two years of community college to count toward the requirement of three years of schooling in California, and will allow completion of an associate degree or completion of a transfer agreement to UC and CSU, instead of high school graduation.

Lara, whose parents were immigrants from Mexico, has emerged as a leading advocate for young immigrants. He believes his bill will help thousands of immigrants in the U.S. illegally to get in-state tuition for their university studies.

“This is another way California will fight Trump and support undocumented students in California as they seek higher education,” said a statement issued by his office.

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