Republican Party Platform: Cut Off Funding To Colleges Who Offer In-State Tuition To Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented college student Jorge Herrera, 18, center, of Carson, Calif., rallies with students and Dream Act supporters in
Undocumented college student Jorge Herrera, 18, center, of Carson, Calif., rallies with students and Dream Act supporters in Los Angeles, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010. The Dream Act, which failed to move on in the Senate, would have given provisional legal status to illegal immigrants brought to the country as children. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

In the national Republican party platform adopted last week, the committee endorsed language calling for the denial of federal funds to universities that allow undocumented immigrants to enroll at in-state tuition rates. The provision echoes similar attempts at the state level in recent years.

The difference between the lower in-state tuition price and the full tuition price for out-of-state students at public universities is picked up by taxpayer dollars. Republicans have argued against offering in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants as benefit rewarding illegal immigration.

Cutting off federal financing for universities who offer in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants could mean the loss of things such as Pell Grants and research funding if it was actually enacted into law.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said the platform "will reflect the heart and soul of the Republican Party."

The platform was adopted last week ahead of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.

Since 2006, several states have already put this provision into law, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Indiana have all barred unauthorized immigrant students from in-state tuition benefits.

However, more states have passed laws in the other direction to approve in-state tuition benefits for undocumented immigrants. Those states include Texas, California, Utah, New York, Washington, Illinois, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maryland and Connecticut. In addition, Rhode Island’s Board of Governors for Higher Education approved a policy to allow in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

The in-state tuition provision came thanks to a push for tough immigration stances by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was instrumental in the controversial Arizona and Alabama immigration laws. The party also chose to adopt Kobach's language calling for a border fence along the Mexican-U.S. border and support for a national E-Verify system.

"If you really want to create a job tomorrow, you can remove an illegal alien today," Kobach said at the meeting.

Romney has referred to Kobach as a policy adviser and said he was a "true leader" in stopping illegal immigration.

President Obama has called for Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship through college or military service for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as young children. The president through executive action ordered for the halt of deportation of immigrants who would be eligible for the Dream Act.

The New York Times points out Romney has said he'd consider a Dream Act for undocumented immigrants who serve in the military.

Russ Walker, a Tea Party organizer and platform committee member, said it "appears to be the most conservative platform in modern history.”

Yet, the provisions relating to immigrants is being criticized as appealing to "the hard-right of the party," and that it's tantamount to a "war against immigrants."

Colleges have recently begun to take it upon themselves to find solutions for immigrants.

Hampshire College in Massachusetts set up a scholarship for undocumented immigrants. The University of California-Los Angeles also recently established the National Dream University, which allows undocumented immigrants to take online courses and receive credit for them.

Metropolitan State College of Denver announced it would offer discounted-tuition for undocumented immigrants. The tuition price would be cheaper than what nonresidents pay, but about $3,000 higher than the in-state tuition.