Latino immigrants march through St. Paul in observance of May Day to call for national immigration law. Photo by Tim Blotz / FOX 9 News.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -
The Minnesota Senate passed the Prosperity Act on Wednesday -- a bill that allows children of undocumented workers to attend the University of Minnesota and other state colleges at the in-state tuition rate.
The bill, sometimes referred to as the Minnesota Dream Act, has been before the state Senate three times in recent years. As written, students would need to meet the following criteria to qualify:
1. They must have attended a Minnesota high school for at least three years.
2. They must have graduated high school or a GED program.
3. They must provide proof of an application for legal immigration status.
The 2012-13 tuition rates at the University of Minnesota currently sit at $6,030 per semester for a full-time, in-state undergrad, and $8,655 for a full-time, out-of-state undergrad.
DFL Sen. Sandy Pappas' bill passed by a 41-23 vote with bipartisan support.
"We want these kids to go to college and become productive members," Pappas said.
Even so, some Republicans felt the state has no business granting special rights on immigration.
"Immigration and who can work legally, that is a federal issue," said Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen). "The state of Minnesota should not get in the way."
Pappas told FOX 9 News Gov. Mark Dayton is a strong supporter of the bill and she hopes House support will affix it to a larger higher education policy bill. If Dayton signs the Prosperity Act, Minnesota would be 16th state to offer illegal immigrants in-state tuition and the fourth to offer financial aid.
The bill's passage coincided with a May Day rally at the Minnesota Capitol by a coalition of groups advocating for state and federal immigration law reform.
"It's not only my dream, it is the dream of the people," said student Scarlett Lopez, who hopes to attend college. "There are students who want to go to college."
The May Day March and Rally for Immigration Reform began at Central Presbyterian Church in St. Paul and continued to the State Capitol.