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Virginia DREAM Act Dies in House, Del. Rust Still Encouraged

Herndon's Del. Rust was encouraged by the support the bill received this year, and will reintroduce it next year.

The Virginia DREAM Act — legislation that would have allowed children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition — has died in Richmond, but supporters are optimistic the bill will pass next year.

"I was encouraged," said Del. Tom Rust, R-Herndon, chief patron of the bill. "The bill has never gotten this far before. In fact, it's never gotten anywhere. I was encouraged by the response. It got a lot of support. I will be introducing it again next year, and I will be working on it between now and then."

For the past seven years, similar legislation has died in a House subcommittee. This year, though, the measure , and it then passed the full House Education Committee with a 17-4 vote. There was no opposition expressed to the bill at either hearing, said Rust's office. 

It helped that the coalition supporting the bill expanded to include chambers of commerce in Arlington, Fairfax and Reston, not to mention several colleges and universities and faith-based organizations.

"I'm incredibly optimistic," said Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington. "I definitely think the support we have this year will carry over to next year — and will only grow. And I'm going to continue working incredibly hard to make sure that happens."

But late last week, the bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee, which refused to hear it, Lopez said. That committee would have had to hear the matter last week in order for the bill to get three readings on the House floor by Tuesday, the so-called crossover deadline for legislation to move from one chamber to the other in the Virginia General Assembly.

Rust said he believed President Barack Obama's executive order in June — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows children of illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria to obtain work visas and remain in the U.S. — helped generate support for this year's proposal in Virginia.

Since Obama's reelection in November, bipartisan support for comprehensive immigration reform is higher than it has been in years.

Some state lawmakers raised legitimate questions as to what would happen to the proposed Virginia law in case immigration reform is passed at the federal level, Rust said.

Though the bill — a combination of legislation originally proposed by Rust and Lopez — died in the Appropriations Committee, Lopez said the cost to the state was negligible.

"What happens is it's another year of kids who are having to wait," he said. "And that's a tragedy."

William Campenni February 08, 2013 at 05:59 PM
The California case was declined on similar narrow points of law. It did not negate the applicability of 8 USC 1623. However, the University of California Board of Regents was so frightful in its fear of liability for violating federal law that it sought legislation to preclude the recovery of damages arising from any lawsuits. Ironically, legislators offered no explanation of how a state could give itself permission to violate federal law and immunize itself from any damages that might otherwise apply. Del Rust did not propose similar legislation to try (vainly) to shield Virginia universities from the folly of this legislation. Thus while there may be a temporary hold on pre-emption enforcement because of the political agenda of the US Department of Justice, there is no guarantee that a sudden change of administrations or public pressure or a new and successful legal challenge by class-action out-of-state students will not immediately expose Virginia to a $400,000,000 shortfall. Does Del. Rust want to expose the Commonwealth to that burden? Then there is The Law. It's what maintains our civilization when our basic instincts and personal appetites might wish for other. In a Man for All Seasons, Thomas More as an all-powerful Chancellor of the Exchequer is challenger to ignore the law to accomplish a more personal agenda. Rather than quote it here, I suggest you see it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgT2n7vePCQ Please, Del. Rust, follow the law.
Barbara Glakas February 09, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Delegate Rust, Thanks for your feedback on this issue. The reason I said that I was not sure what your core values are on this issue is because you have shifted your position on it so many times over the last few years. In 2006 you voted to prohibit undocumented immigrants from even enrolling in public universities. Then in 2007 you voted to prevent them from getting in-state tuition. Then in 2011 you were back to prohibiting them from enrolling. Now in 2013 you support in-state tuition for them. So it’s hard for me to trust your true values on this policy, when you have waffled back and forth on it. What do you REALLY believe in? I can’t help but think that if you had felt strongly that all students residing in Virginia should have access to higher education, which you would have been fighting for that all along – especially as a member of the House Education Committee – as opposed to waiting to see what the President and other states did. I was surprised that you were quoted in the article as saying of this Virginia Dream Act-like legislation that, "The bill has never gotten this far before. In fact, it's never gotten anywhere,” when you have been voting against it for years. Nevertheless, regardless of your motivations or recent change of heart, I supported your effort this year to pass the bill, even though it died in the Appropriations Committee.
Barbara Glakas February 09, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Correction: In the second line of the second paragraph of my above post (Feb 9, 10:09), I meant to say "that you would have been fighting for," not "which you would hav been fighting for."
William Campenni February 09, 2013 at 04:52 PM
Thanks Ms. Glakas. You educate these politicians that pandering to the illegal alien advocates just won't work. And they had counted on winning your vote. Could you please also send your comments to Messrs McCain, Rubio, Graham, and Rove down at the Republican headquarters? They also thought they had your vote wrapped up with their pandering moves. And while you're at it, could you also send the part about ". . . it’s hard for me to trust your true values on this policy, when you have waffled back and forth on it." to the man who stands astride the Glakasian pedestal, Barack Obama, telling him likewise that you don't appreciate his waffling on those issues he was against before he became for, like unpatriotic deficits, gay marriage, keeping Guantanamo, tax increases on the middle class, cost increases to healthcare, etc. etc. You can twitter him on your Obamaphone.
Barbara Glakas February 09, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Bill, Glakasian pedestal. Nice one. Sorry you are sore about the President. You keep quoting Federal law, but the broader point that I think you are missing is that the general public is ready for these laws to change. That is why you see movement on this issue. That is why both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as the President, are working on updating our immigration laws. That is why many states have already started adopting their own version of the Dream Act. I know you and I have different points of view on this use, but in the long run, I believe a Dream Act law will be good for Virginia. And yes, Jennifer Boysko has supported this consistently.

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