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Oregon governor signs tuition bill for undocumented immigrants

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber [official website] signed a bill [text, PDF] Tuesday allowing undocumented immigrants to attend public universities at the same tuition rate as in-state residents. The law requires that in order to qualify for these lowered rates, students must have attended high school in Oregon for at least three years, must have attended school in the US for at least five years, and must show proof of intent to become a US citizen. The subsidized tuition rate will save undocumented immigrants an estimated $20,000 per year, though they will still be ineligible to apply for state and federal financial aid. The bill will go into effect in July.

Immigration laws [JURIST backgrounder] have became a hot button issue over the past few years when many states, Arizona being the first, passed laws giving their state and local officials more power to crack down on illegal immigration. Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia permanently blocked [JURIST report] a key provision in Georgia's immigration law that criminalized knowingly transporting or harboring an undocumented immigrant during the course of any other crime. In January, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange asked [JURIST report] the US Supreme Court to overturn a recent decision striking down provisions of Alabama's controversial immigration law [HB 56, PDF]. In December Thrash lifted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] blocking part of a Georgia immigration law that allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in criminal investigations. Thrash's order was in line with an August ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which upheld [JURIST report] that provision of the law, but it remains to be seen how police will enforce the provision.

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