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Rhode Island's higher education board, picking up an issue that the state legislature declined to address, has decided to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at its public universities, the Associated Press reports.
In-state rates will be available only to children of undocumented immigrants who attended high school in Rhode Island for at least three years and graduated, according to the AP. They must also pledge to seek legal status as soon as they are able; otherwise, they will lose their resident tuition. The policy takes effect in 2012, the news agency reports.
Tuition at the University of Rhode Island, for example, is less than $10,000 for in-state residents, but more than $25,000 for out-of-state students, according to the AP. Rhode Island will become the 13th state to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition under certain conditions, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.
During hours of public testimony, opinions varied wildly, the AP reports. Governor Lincoln Chafee had voiced his support for the policy, saying it would add to the "intellectual and cultural life" of the state, according to the news agency. But Terry Gorman, executive director of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, told the AP it would amount to "aiding and abetting" illegal immigrants.