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Latino Daily News

Tuesday November 20, 2012

Massachusetts to Allow Undocumented to Pay In-State Tuition

Massachusetts to Allow Undocumented to Pay In-State Tuition

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On Monday, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced that, under existing Board of Higher Education policy, certain young immigrants who meet criteria under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be considered eligible for in-state tuition at the Commonwealth’s 29 public college and university campuses, provided that they meet residency requirements.

The last time a bill regarding in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants was approved by the Legislature was is 2004. Despite being approved, then-Gov. Mitt Romney vetoed the legislation.

Both parties have criticized Gov. Patrick, with Republicans like State Rep. Bradley H. Jones Jr. calling for the “implementation of in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants [to] be stopped immediately,” and Democrats such as State Sen. Richard Moore worrying undocumented students might “deny slots at public colleges from students who are legal residents of Massachusetts.”

The Globe wrote that members of both parties are also upset with the governor for “unilaterally imposing policy rather than working through the legislative process.”

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Gov. Patrick told reporters on Monday, “But it’s not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform. We still need that.”

So what are the requirements of DACA?

You may apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) if:

  - you are age 15 or older
  - or you are younger than 15 and in removal proceedings, or have a final order of removal or an order of voluntary departure

You may qualify for DACA only if ALL of the following are true:

  - you entered the U.S. before your 16th birthday
  - you were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  - you have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 up to the present
  - you were in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 (and when you apply for DACA)
  - you did not have lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012
  - you are in school, or you completed high school, or you obtained a GED, or you were honorably discharged from the U.S. military or Coast Guard
  - you have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; and you do not pose a threat to public safety or national security

You must also pass a biographic and biometric background check.

You can check your eligibility by using the DACA screening tool here.

You are not guaranteed deferred action just because you meet the eligibility requirements. The USCIS makes decisions on a case-by-case basis, and can deny or revoke deferred action status.

For more information about age requirements, education and military service guidelines, and other eligibility guidelines, see DACA Guidelines from the USCIS.