Minnesota’s free college program includes illegal immigrants
Illegal immigrants in Minnesota will soon get free college tuition if their families are below a certain household income level.
The “North Star Promise” program “will create a tuition and fee-free pathway to higher education for eligible Minnesota residents at eligible institutions as a ‘last-dollar’ program by covering the balance of tuition and fees remaining after other scholarships, grants, stipends and tuition waivers have been applied,” according to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education summary.
The “Adjusted Gross Income” must be “below $80,000,” according to the Office of Higher Education.
The College Fix emailed state senator Omer Fateh, one of the bill’s sponsors, twice in the past four weeks to ask for comment on the legislation. Fateh did not respond to questions about potential violation of federal law, concerns about pulling resources away from other students and potential incentivization of illegal immigration.
“We’ve been seeing declining enrollment on all campuses,” Fateh said during debate over the legislation. “If we don’t do something quick, we’re at risk of shutting down some campuses. … I see this bill as an enrollment driver.”
State Representative Marion O’Neill, a Republican, said she was “completely frozen out of all discussions” during the conference committee to reconcile different versions of the legislation.
Federal law currently requires that government entities that provide tuition benefits to illegal immigrants must provide the same incentives to out-of-state residents. However, this program is only open to Minnesota residents.
The “Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996” requires that “an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit” unless the same benefits are provided to U.S. citizens.
However, the Department of Justice, even under President Donald Trump, never enforced the law.
“If the DOJ actually enforced the law those states would lose, they’d be forced to either stop providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants or get rid of increased tuition for U.S. citizen,” former DOJ attorney Hans von Spakovsky, now with the Heritage Foundation, previously told The Fix.
The Center for Immigration Studies did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the program from The Fix.
Minnesota is not the only place looking to assist illegal immigrants in college.
The University of California system recently announced it would hire illegal immigrants for campus jobs, despite other federal laws that potentially forbid it.
A proponent of the plan previously told The Fix there “are currently thousands of college students at state universities in California who cannot obtain the same educational employment opportunities as their peers solely due to their immigration status,” such as “work study jobs, paid internships, student leadership positions in campus organizations” and other paid opportunities.
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