Goshen News, Goshen, IN

February 14, 2013

Immigration debate starts at home


— The state of Indiana is shamefully behind when it comes to immigration policy. While many of our neighboring states, including Illinois, continue to enact immigrant friendly laws, we have wasted money and resources fighting ours in court. State Sen. Carlin Yoder is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 207, which would partly repeal part of HEA1402 passed in 2011. HEA1402 took effect July 1, 2011, requiring state colleges to charge undocumented students out of state tuition.

Although Senate Bill 207 does not completely undo the damage of HEA1402, it is a step in the right direction nonetheless. The legislation would restore in-state tuition for students enrolled in a state university prior to July 1 when HEA1402 took effect. It is encouraging to see that both political parties are increasingly coming to a consensus on immigration. GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma, an unlikely ally, originally voted in favor of HEA1402 and is now having a change of heart. Bosma was recently quoted as expressing openness to undoing the provision.

While the broader discussion on immigration takes place on Capitol Hill, it is crucial that this state recognizes that it contains a segment of people that is just as American as anyone else, sans a nine-digit social security number. The Supreme Court case Plyer v. Doe (1982) ruled that everyone in this country has a right to an education — including undocumented immigrants. These students have resided in this country for most of their lives; they grew up in Indiana and consider themselves Hoosiers through thick and thin. Passing Senate Bill 207 would be the first step in righting this wrong.

Jose Alvarez

Elkhart