Topeka Pleas from both sides of the immigration debate were expressed Tuesday as a House committee considered repealing the law that allows some undocumented students to pay the same lower tuition rates as legal residents of Kansas.
“We are here because we want to learn and make this state better,” said Alaide Vilchis, a 2008 graduate of Kansas University.
Andrea Pardo-Spalding, a Kansas State University graduate, said she came here from Mexico as a child with her parents. “My heart is rooted in the land of opportunity. I just want to give back all the blessings that this great nation and state has given me,” she said.
When they graduated from high school, both women took advantage of a law passed in 2004 that states individuals who attended high school in Kansas for three years and either graduated or received a GED could pay the in-state tuition rate. They also must pursue citizenship.
Approximately 430 students are benefiting from the law.
Both women said they could not have attended college if they were forced to pay the higher out-of-state tuition rates.
But critics of the law have tried for years to repeal it. They say the law encourages illegal immigration, adds to the burden of taxpayers and is unfair to foreign students who are legally here to attend school.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach told the House Federal and State Affairs Committee that, “The state of Kansas is giving an incentive to remain unlawfully present in the United States.”
Kobach, a Republican, said he was testifying not as secretary of state but as an attorney who is an expert on this issue.
Kathy Brown, an attorney from Kansas City, Mo., said, “I’m appalled at the endless invasion of illegal aliens into our country. We have enough entitlements that they are already able to claim and I certainly don’t want them to be able to continue to receive in-state tuition in violation of federal law.”
The hearing on House Bill 2006 was scheduled to continue on Wednesday.