The Florida House of Representatives ratified Friday by a vote of 85-32 a bill making qualified undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges.
The Senate approved the measure on Thursday and it is now headed to Gov. Rick Scott, who has promised to sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.
The move will benefit students covered by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created in 2012 to help the undocumented young people that the long-stalled DREAM Act was intended to benefit.
“We’re very happy and excited that the bill has been approved by the state Senate and confirmed by the House of Representatives,” Julio Calderon, a 24-year-old student at Florida International University in Miami, told Efe.
The in-state tuition rate is about one-quarter the amount paid by non-Florida residents.
Scott and predecessors Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez - all Republicans - applauded Friday the passing of the bill.
The law will benefit some 200,000 undocumented students in Florida,” Kathy Bird, coordinator of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, told Efe, while expressing her great satisfaction and pride for this legal victory “after a fight that’s gone on for more than 10 years.”
Florida becomes the 21st state to establish some kind of university enrollment benefit for undocumented immigrants, after Virginia did the same earlier this week.
The bill offers the advantages of in-state enrollment and tuition for undocumented students who attended high school in Florida for three years prior to graduation.
Before receiving these benefits, undocumented students must take an oath to apply for regularization of their immigration status.