Failed to pass both houses, will not become law this session

Over 11 years ago, President Obama issued the executive order that established the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program – or DACA –  giving nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children the chance to live, work, and go to school without fear of deportation. While DACA has been a significant step forward in the fight to expand immigrant rights, it falls short of the pathway to citizenship Dreamers deserve.

One area in which DACA recipients continue to face injustice is higher education. Wisconsin is home to more than 75,000 undocumented people, many of whom claim DACA status so they can enroll at a state college or university. But those Dreamers living in Wisconsin who decide to attend college must saddle a vastly higher financial burden than other Wisconsin students. This is because we are one of only five states in the country with laws that specifically prohibit undocumented immigrants, including beneficiaries of DACA, from receiving in-state tuition and financial aid. 

The 8,000 Dreamers who live in Wisconsin, along with the undocumented community as a whole, play a vital role in keeping Wisconsin running. According to a Dreamers of Wisconsin tuition equity policy brief, DACA-eligible residents of Wisconsin pay $48 million in local, state, and federal taxes and make massive contributions to our economy. The difference that DACA recipients make economically is so significant that without them the state would lose $427 million in GDP annually. Dreamers are clearly invaluable to our state in countless ways, and continuing to deny them equal access to education is not only harmful to Dreamers and their families but detrimental to all of Wisconsin.

This bill creates a nonresident tuition exemption for certain University of Wisconsin System students. Current law allows the Board of Regents of the UW System to charge different tuition rates to resident and nonresident students. Current law also includes nonresident tuition exemptions, under which certain nonresident students pay resident tuition rates. This bill creates an additional exemption for a person who has resided in this state for 12 months immediately preceding any semester or session in which they register at an institution and who is in approved deferred action status pursuant to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.



Representatives Macco, Ortiz-Velez, Kitchens, Conley, Goyke, McGuire; Senators Taylor, James, Hesselbein, Tomczyk





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