In a momentous victory for undocumented youth in Florida, the State House officially passed H.B. 851, granting Dreamers in Florida in-state tuition. The bill will now go to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk, who has already committed to signing it.
Florida is set to become the 20th state to offer in-state tuition to Dreamers, and continues the trend of local victories for Dreamers across the country.
Nanci Palacios, a leader with United We Dream – Tampa Bay, an affiliate of United We Dream, issued the following statement:
“This is such a special day. This means I can finally transfer to the University of South Florida to finish my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and apply for medical school, something that I didn’t see as a reality before today.
For myself, and for other Dreamers in Florida, the prices for a higher education were outrageous. It took me seven years to finish my Associate’s degree because of having to work and study at the same time, and it was difficult to imagine how long it would have taken me to finish my undergraduate studies.
It’s really a relief. And not just for me, but for my family members and my peers as well, who have fought so hard for so long to make this happen. I was the first in my family to go to college, and for me to tell other members of my family that they can now afford college as well is a dream come true.”
Evelyn Rivera, a Southeast regional organizer for United We Dream, said,
“After twenty-two years of living in Florida I am thrilled that I will finally have the opportunity to an affordable education. As D.C. remains at a standstill on immigration reform, these local victories become that much more important as we continue fighting for equality in the country we call home.
Florida has shown the rest of America today that members from both sides of the aisle can come together and do what’s right for the undocumented community. But there remains work to be done in our fight for justice and dignity. The next step is to ensure that all Floridians regardless of immigration status can drive to work and school. We hope both Democrats and Republicans will again come together next session and support drivers licenses for all.
We know that the rest of the country was watching today, and we’re hoping that other states take the same bold action we took today until we have educational equality for all.”
United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, a powerful nonpartisan network made up of 52 affiliate organizations in 25 states. UWD organizes and advocates for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status. We seek to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth and believe that by empowering immigrant youth, we can advance the cause of the entire community—justice for all immigrants.