UPDATE: Tennessee immigrant tuition bill voted down in House pan - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Tennessee immigrant tuition bill voted down in House panel

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NASHVILLE, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A proposal to give in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants has failed. 

State lawmakers in the House Education, Administration, and Planning Committee narrowly voted the bill down on Tuesday.

"I miss going to school. I miss going to class like it's just fun for me. I just love going to school," Karla Meza, an undocumented student said. 

Meza has dreams of attending UT's law school one day, but that's been put on hold.      

She made the trip to the state capitol with other undocumented students pushing to pay the same college tuition as her peers. Right now, she has to pay out-of-state tuition, which is much more.

State Rep. Mark White from Memphis wants to change that.

"As a Tennessee state representative, I cannot influence Congress, but I can help our state to protect our state. Since nothing's been done, we're now faced with this issue," State Rep. Mark White, (R) Memphis said.

White said 13,000 undocumented students are going through the K-12 school system in Tennessee.

His proposal would have given students in this situation in-state tuition at universities like UTC or Chattanooga State.

They would need to graduate from a Tennessee high school and attend for at least two years.

Critics argue if the bill ever became law, it would make the state a magnet and possibly overcrowd schools.

"They can still go to college. We're not saying they can't be educated, but I just think it's a burden on Tennessee taxpayers if we allow illegals to have in-state tuition," State Rep. Dawn White, (R) Murfreesboro said.

State lawmakers voted 7-6 against the bill.

Meza hopes the proposal will go through one day so she can afford college tuition. For now, she said the fight isn't over.

"I mean I'm never going to stop, but it would be a lot easier, you know, I would be able to go to school at the rate I should be able to pay," Meza said.

The sponsor of the bill said he plans to bring the issue up again next year. 


UPDATE: A Tennessee House panel has narrowly voted down a push to offer in-state tuition rates to public college students whose parents brought them to the country illegally, drawing tears from some students in the room.

The House Education Administration & Planning Committee voted 7-6 against the bill Tuesday.

Republican bill sponsor Rep. Mark White of Memphis said the students didn't choose to enter the country at a young age, many have been in Tennessee almost their whole lives, and they're victimized by federal inaction.

Republican Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and more than a dozen lawmakers led a news conference Monday contending that tuition breaks shouldn't go to students here illegally or under temporary status through an order by former President Barack Obama.

Twenty other states allow the in-state tuition.


PREVIOUS STORY: Ahead of an expected committee vote, several conservative Tennessee representatives are decrying a push by fellow Republicans to offer in-state tuition rates to public college students whose parents brought them to the country illegally.

At a news conference Monday, Republican Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma led more than a dozen lawmakers in contending that state taxpayer money shouldn't be spent on tuition breaks for students here illegally or under temporary status through an order by former President Barack Obama.

The bill by Republican Rep. Mark White of Memphis is scheduled for a vote Tuesday in the House Education Administration & Planning Committee.

White says the students didn't choose to enter the United States at a young age, and they're victimized by federal inaction.

Twenty other states allow the in-state tuition.

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