State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Lawmaker drafting Dream Act for PA

Written by Mary Wilson | Feb 15, 2013 5:11 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- A Republican state lawmaker is hoping Pennsylvania joins the roughly dozen other states that have extended in-state tuition to undocumented students.

Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) says children brought to the U.S. illegally shouldn’t see their educational and employment opportunities hampered – he’s making the case the commonwealth should pass its own Dream Act.

Smucker’s measure, which hasn’t yet been introduced, would allow undocumented students who get into any of the 14 state-owned or four state-related universities not to pay out-of-state or international tuition rates, which, in the commonwealth, are sometimes more than double the in-state rates.

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PA Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13)

PA Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13)Smucker said during an interview with witf’s Radio Smart Talk that eligible students would have to prove they’ve attended high school for at least two years in Pennsylvania high schools – ensuring that the legislation helps students like the ones Smucker says he’s met in his own district and throughout the state.

“They’re generally great students,” said Smucker. “They have the capacity and the ability to contribute to our society in a big way and I think that allowing this opportunity, removing that barrier will be – it’s the right thing to do for them, I believe, and also will be an economic investment in the commonwealth.”

Smucker said he was spurred to look into such legislation when Maryland joined the ranks of the roughly 12 states that allow undocumented college students to pay in-state tuition.

“There it went to a public referendum and it was passed by a wide margin,” said Smucker. “59 percent of the voters in Maryland supported the Dream Act there and so… really it sort of clicked with me at that point that this was probably something we ought to be considering here.”

An aide to Smucker said the bill will be introduced by the end of next week, and that it has at least 10 co-sponsors, one of whom is Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.

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