ORLANDO, Fla. — Less than a decade after Florida cleared the way for undocumented students to receive in-state tuition, the state seems to be headed in the opposite direction.
In a news conference earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed his support of reversing a law that gives qualified undocumented students access to in-state tuition vouchers.
DeSantis argues that removing the measure will keep tuition costs down. “Why would we subsidize a non-U.S. citizen?” he said.
Right now, there are more than 40,000 undocumented students in Florida.
Eli Garcia is a DACA recipient who came to the United States when she was nine years old.
She got that education thanks in no small part to in-state tuition, saying after the measure passed, she went from paying $1,200 per class to about $350 per class.
It not only saved Garcia thousands of dollars, but she also now provides help to other undocumented immigrants trying to get their college degree.
But she doesn’t know for how much longer as DeSantis is not alone in his desire to reverse the measure.
“We should not be incenting people to come here illegally and rewarding them for doing it,” State Rep. Randy Fine said.
Although the repeal didn’t happen this year, he’d like to see it pass next year.
“It certainly is something I’ve supported all along. And we’re spending a huge amount of money on this. And it’s just not right,” he said.
Even though the repeal didn’t pass this year, the concern over tuition uncertainty, according to Registered Nurse Megan Harrell, has ripple effects as medical students look for an education and and a job.
“I personally know a large majority of immigrants that come from the Caribbean -- specifically who come to South Florida, who come to Central Florida -- who are looking to restart their careers,” Harrell said. “They were physicians, they were nurses in other countries. They do represent a large percentage of healthcare workers. So to take this away, I really do see a large gap in healthcare workers, especially in a field (that is) so desperate for workers and graduates.”
With an aging population and fewer nurses with less experience, nurses like Megan Harrell wonder how the industry will keep up.
“I’m going to school with them and then training these brand new nurses,” she said. “It’s really evident to see that people who have prior experience in other countries who are coming in -- they just come with a plethora of knowledge and understanding of the patients and the disease processes.”
Anchor Kirstin Delgado asked Harrell point black, “So this would really be a detriment to them if this proposal were to reach status where it became law?”
Her response -- “Absolutely. It would really hold a lot of people back from going to school. It would really create a gap in healthcare, especially in Florida.”
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