State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater announced Wednesday at a press conference at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater Campus that he will sponsor a bill in the Florida Senate that would clear the way for the children of undocumented residents to pay in-state tuition in Florida.
State Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater joined Latvala in support.
Latvala said he “decided in good conscience that there’s no reason the parents’ immigration status should be the determining factor of the tuition that our young people pay. Taxpayers in Florida get a reduced tuition rate….In this particular case, these children are the children of taxpayers in Florida who pay our sales tax, who pay our gas taxes, in many cases pay other taxes.
“I just think this is a disparity and a discriminatory issue that needs to go away,” he said.
The bill also includes language that would allow honorably discharged veterans to pay in-state tuition.
The legislators were joined for the announcement by SPC President Bill Law; Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe; Sandra Lyth, CEO of the InterCultural Advocacy Institute (Hispanic Outreach Center); Maria Edmonds, chairwoman of the Juvenile Welfare Board; and three SPC students.
Celeste Pioquinto, 17, who is an Early College student at the college, said she was born and raised in Clearwater, has attended Pinellas schools all her life and has always been on the honor roll.
“Ever since elementary school, I have dreamed about college or university. Now instead of dreaming it, I am preparing for it. I have applied to universities. I have applied for scholarships, but there is a barrier. I am not eligible for in-state tuition despite being documented because my parents are both undocumented,” she said. “This bill not only affects me, but affects many of my close relations.”
See more: Watch the video on the college’s YouTube channel.
See more: View photos from the conference on SPC’s Facebook page.
Read more: Coverage in the Tampa Tribune
Read more: Coverage in the Tampa Bay Times